Holland America Line Prinsendam by Count Florida New York to Amsterdam June 3, 2002
Holland American MV Prinsendam - Other Destination - see details in review Dates: June 3, 2002 from New York to Southampton 6/13/02, Copenhagen 6/26/02, and Amsterdam 710/02 Review by Count Florida ([email protected]) INAUGURAL VOYAGES OF HOLLAND-AMERICAN'S PRINSENDAM Many passengers on the first few voyages of Holland-American Line's Prinsendam believed (some had read ) that it was a new ship. Most, however, seemed aware it was the former Royal Viking (later Seabourn) Sun, supposedly comprehensively overhauled and refurbished. Both views were mistaken, or perhaps, mislead. It's well-advertised 2002 overhaul was neither comprehensive or complete when on June 3, 2002, the ship sailed from New York bound for Southampton via Halifax, Cobh and Plymouth. Holland-American had taken the Sun and attempted to transform it into their "Elegant Explorer". It might be an explorer, but it's not very elegant.
The Sun was one of the world's most luxurious ships 10-12 years ago. Today, even after overhaul, it is a tired, somewhat worn-down dowager of a ship with new engines and refurbished public spaces. The loyal Holland-American crew tried to cope with its numerous problems andlimitations, but nothing could overcome the hyped up expectations that resulted in a full ship on the inaugural crossing and the third leg through the Baltic on 6/26. My wife and I endured a standard cabin on Main (6) deck for the first three cruises of the Prinsendam: Transatlantic, European Highlights, and Baltic Summer, June 3rd to July 10th. There is limited storage space in this type of cabin, just four small drawers and a narrow tower of shelves in the closet, mainly to hold the safe.
The condition of some cabins was appalling. A couple at our table, with several hundred days cruising on Holland-American and the medallions to show for it, were almost flooded out of their penthouse suite. The woman had an expensive designer handbag ruined, and the carpet was damp and musty-smelling for much of the rest of the crossing. While she was finally compensated (a credit to her on-board account), they told us the ship was nothing like the usual Holland-American cruise experience. This theme was repeated numerous times by others, including one honest ship's officer and many crew members. Perhaps the Prinsendam is the exception.
When we boarded this supposedly "completely refurbished" ship, our cabin was shabby - worn carpet, chipped furniture, and two dilapidated-looking single beds rather than the queen configuration requested. Worse yet, there was hair all over the very small (barely adequate) bath, and nail clippings on the rug in the cabin. My wife just despises hair and personal filth! It took our room steward a couple of days to get us ice, almost a week to find us a bath mat, and the cabin was always stuffy no matter what was done to the thermostat.
While service in the dining room was quite good, in the Lido it was marginal, and on occasion we heard crew complaining that the Lido's kitchen and buffet facilities were not able to handle the number of passengers on board. At peak times, you had to hunt or wait to find a place to sit. More than one crew member told us the cooks in the Lido were furious over the wretched situation. Initially, room service was just awful. We had breakfast in our cabin most mornings. Every morning for the first six or seven days something was wrong. No bread or rolls one morning. No butter another. Then they brought an empty coffee pot! Often, the cream we ordered came as low-fat milk. After a while, things improved, but the service was never up to the standards we are used to, not nearly. Overall, the quality and variety of the food was pretty good on the crossing, but seemed to deteriorate thereafter, possibly because the menu repeated each segment. Perhaps the best testament to the food is I actually lost weight on this extended cruise! Unbelievable; but there is a first time for everything.
The alternate restaurant, the Odyssey, was good, but the menu was limited and remained static for the entire 37 days of all three cruises. And it made the Prinsendam a two-class ship: passengers in suites could eat breakfast and lunch in the Odyssey, while the rest of us were allowed in only for dinner, and then if and only if there was room after suite passengers had been accommodated. After a month-long round-the-world cruise experience in Grill class on Cunard's QE2, we would not knowingly have booked again on a ship with class distinctions. One table-mate enjoying a suite (not the ones with the flood) often mentioned how relaxed the Odyssey was at breakfast or lunch, rubbing in the contrast with the long lines and scarce seating in the Lido. Tipped off by our astute travel agent, we managed to eat dinner in the Odyssey twice, once on each of the first two legs. We didn't even try to make reservations the third cruise; there was nothing else on Odyssey's menu we wanted to try.
Perhaps the most annoying part was the constant "nickel and dimeing" and over-charging we faced throughout the trip. The tours seemed expensive, compared to what we've paid on other cruise lines as recently as April-May of this year. The quality of these high-priced tours, particularly the food and busses or trains, left much to be desired. On board, a coke or a small bottle of water, even with a meal, cost $1.95. A liter bottle of water in your cabin was $2.00 some times, $2.50 others. They charged $5. for a single shot of Doubonet. I've been drinking Doubonet before dinner for more than thirty years, off and on, but have never once seen it poured using a shot glass before! A liter bottle of Doubonet cost us just over $8. in a small (taxed) grocery store in Ireland. We stocked up on beer, tonic and snacks in Halifax, then picked up some reasonably priced gin in the ship's store. That, and a couple of timely wine purchases ashore took care of our basic needs.
Shipboard computer access to the Internet was 75¢ a minute! When you read the small print, it turned out that rate was for any use of a computer! Not just when you are accessing the internet. Any use. They didn't even have Word or Excel installed! "Use WordPad", the attendant said! Simply outrageous! We were able to access the Internet in most ports at usually reasonable cost, not more than a dollar or two per hour. The ultimate fleecing came when they started charging $5.00 per person each way for the port shuttle on the third (Baltic) leg of our cruise. In one port, better public transport for the same trip was five Swedish Krone, about .55 cents US! We learned to ride local trams and busses, and walked a lot. A healthier alternative.
Holland-American offers a number of "deals", so many pieces of laundry, a number of bottles of wine, etc., for one price. I signed up for 100 minutes of "internet time" on one of these deals, only to learn the real facts when I read the fine print (see above). Our gripe is that multi-segment guests couldn't carry over unused allocations to subsequent segments; everything was based on each individual cruise segment. We personally discussed this with the ship's hotel director. He made it very clear that each cruise stood on its own, no matter how long you stayed on board, no discussion. They had to balance their records and accounts! The bean-counters win again!
A lot of critical things on board were broken, and no one seemed able to fix them. The sprinkler system leaked. We never saw the four elevators working all at the same time. Often two or even three would be out of service. And four elevators is not nearly enough for a ship with nearly 800 passengers, many of whom are elderly and unable to manage the stairs. Only the forward elevators went to four deck and the tenders. When the plight of a wheelchair-bound guest unable to get to the tenders because both forward elevators were out of service was reported to a front desk Guest Services staffer, she said, "Thank you, sir, We'll take care of that right away" then promptly went back to counting stamps! You could hear the poor woman crying in the Atrium from a floor away - she had apparently been abandoned or trapped there. Even after a complaint to the hotel director, including the staffers' name with the time and full particulars, nothing changed at the front desk; it remained unresponsive and defensive. They couldn't even get a guest's name right; not even after three tries!
Our cabin was on Main (6) Deck next to the gangway, amidships on the port side. We had complained and asked to be assigned another cabin weeks before embarkation, to no avail. The gang-plank squealed like it was corroded or worse. Everywhere we docked with the port side to the pier, we were awakened (often quite early) to the sound of doors banging, motors running, and the gang-plank bumping and screeching. My wife never found the clothes washers all working at the same time, so there was often a long wait. On the crossing, there was no place in the laundry to sit while waiting, and one of the two irons was broken.
Leaving Copenhagen June 26th after a late sailing, we were awakened just before 2 AM by a loud screeching noise; it sounded just awful. Turned out to be the pilot boat, scraping its tire-bumpers along the hull as it nudged alongside to pick up the pilot, and lasted ± five minutes. Another night the smoke detector in our cabin went off around 3 AM. Never did find out why, but it sure was loud. It also went off occasionally when you took a shower. When we complained, we were told they were "sensitive" for our protection. Hard to believe.
I don't want to give the impression that everything was awful; it wasn't. The itinerary was well planned and quite interesting. We had a complete if quick look at a part of the world we hadn't seen before, guided by a truly outstanding port lecturer. The overwhelming majority of the crew tried to make the trip comfortable and enjoyable. The casino used the more reasonable American blackjack rules, and the team there was friendly and helpful. Many of the problems were perhaps beyond anyone on board's ability to fix, given the schedule. The ship clearly needed more time in rehab; many tasks just weren't finished when she left Charleston for her New York "inaugural". The crew also needed more time to become familiar with the ship and work out its kinks. Holland-American should have been more candid, in both its literature and touting, that the Prinsendam was a rehabilitated, 14 year old ship. When you pay a premium, you expect a superior product. They did not deliver!
What we did manage to get out of all this was an interesting overview of western and northern Europe. The initial attraction for us was a comprehensive tour where you moved into one room (cabin) and it moved with you. Our "tour" left from New York, called at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and included two ports each in Ireland, England, France, Spain, Norway and Denmark, three in Sweden, with single port calls in Northern Ireland, Finland, Russia (overnight), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany. After transiting the Kiel Canal, it finally ended 37 days later in Amsterdam, Netherlands. We didn't enjoy every port; in fact, we would have passed by some for more time in others. Two ports per country seemed about right. Applying that to Sweden, by-passing either Visby or Kalmar would have allowed an overnight in Stockholm; a single day there is not nearly enough. Having both Ireland port calls on its south coast (Cobh and Waterford) was a waste. Substituting Dublin for Waterford (normally a tender port) would have been a lot better. We left Oslo too early to see that city properly; early morning flights of departing passengers from Copenhagen apparently forced that decision. Too bad.
Although port calls in each of the Baltic states seemed an attractive feature of the itinerary, they proved to be a repetitive disappointment, particularly right after the splendors of St. Petersburg. Two days in St. Petersburg was not enough either, even though the Russian visa "squeeze" limited us to the overly expensive ship's tours. Other lines spend three days (two nights) in St. Petersburg, and have more and better tour offerings. This city was the site of one of the most heroic siege defenses in all history: 900 days during World War II. Some lines offer tours highlighting this epic struggle, but none was available from Holland-American, unfortunately.
Based on our experience, the tours available seemed highly overpriced. From Belfast, the ship's full day tour to the Giant Causeway with lunch was $122 per person. Four of us went on the pier and rented a taxi with driver for about five hours, got a two-part tour of Belfast on the way out and in, plus the Giant Causeway for $120. A nice two-course lunch with drinks at the Bushmills Inn, the same place the tour ate, cost my wife and I $45. with tip. We had time for shopping in downtown Belfast where the taxi dropped us at the end of our tour. We saw more in less time at less than half the cost, even viewing some fallout from "the troubles": bricks in the street and nasty signs. The only glitch was the return shuttle bus was not where the ship's tour office said it would be. I spotted and flagged it down at a traffic light, but others weren't so lucky. The tour office on board was good at selling tours, but hard to find open. The saving grace was Frank, the port lecturer, a truly amazing man. What a font of knowledge! His advice was invariably accurate, unbiased, comprehensive and witty. Bravo!
Overall, there were a number of good tours, including the one to Kinsale from Cobh, the hastily arranged tour to Stonehenge and Salisbury from Southampton, the tour of Bilbao and its new museum, and the Hermitage at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. After taking a wine country tour from Bordeaux, we were skeptical of the price vs. value, and especially careful about booking . On the Bordeaux tour, the bus was uncomfortable, the guide poor, and the winery awful. We were given a single glass of a white wine which I suspect didn't sell very well.
The worst tour rip-off was the 13½ hour tour to Berlin from Warnemunde at $298 per person. The train was old and shabby, much like parts of the ship. The "snacks" provided were awful. They didn't even have coffee on the train, which left at 7:30 AM. Our guide in Berlin was an archetypical German, straight by the book. He seemed inexperienced, and stood faced back into the bus instead of sitting facing forward, paying attention to where we were, and commenting on what we were actually seeing. Consequently, his talk was often out of sync with what we were passing, but he rigidly stuck to his script, even when passengers asked what he was talking about. He gave us long break at the Brandenburg Gate, which you couldn't even see as it was being repaired, shrouded in a huge ad! This caused us to fall behind schedule, so he by-passed the Reichstag, one of the more interesting sights, to insure we were on time for lunch! No German is late! Ever! It is Verboten!
After lunch we had a break in a shopping district, but it was Sunday. Stores aren't open in Germany on Sunday. We could window shop. It was just a little too far away from a lively, interesting looking flea market we had passed to get there and back, independently during the break. Why not take our break there? Absolutely not! Why, someone might enjoy themselves and forget the time! The final indignity occurred when they took us back out to East Berlin to catch the train to Warnemunde. Wait! First, we had to pick up the passengers who took the longer Berlin tour ending in Potsdam, far to the west. So for an hour and a half we rode around Berlin, through what seemed an endless train yard, to the Potsdam station. Only then could we begin the 2½ hour trek back to the ship at Warnemunde! The "snack" on the way back (which the hotel director personally told me would be "substantial"), was a stale bagel with less than a smear of cheese and wilted lettuce, with juice, a piece of candy and fruit. An unpleasant end to a long, disappointing day in a very interesting city. The good news was they kept the Lido open so we could get a bite to eat when we finally got back on board.
The tours in St. Petersburg were quite good, particularly the Hermitage. This is a truly magnificent building, full of impressive art and artifacts, many with interesting stories. The quirk was that our guide, usually quite thorough, basically refused to guide us through the modern (20th century) galleries at the back of the building. She told us we could walk through them and meet her at the far end in 20 minutes or so. Then she disappeared. Later I asked her why, but got no real answer. I suspect she felt the modern pieces aren't real art. Next day, the tour of Imperial St. Petersburg with hydrofoil (boat) ride on the Neva River to Petrohof was interesting but a little too long. The bus driver nearly flew on the way back; I guess they were afraid we'd miss the boat.
Earlier, the tour of Bilbao and its new Frank Gerry-designed titanium sheeted Guggenheim Museum was fascinating. Bilbao is a really intriguing urban setting with many squares surrounded by four and five story buildings. At street level are shops and other retail businesses. On the floor just above are professional offices, above that are apartments. Just the mix that makes for a lively, livable city! The spectacular museum seems to have acted as a catalyst to bring Bilbao to life. In this new museum are many interesting pieces. We've visited the new Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Massachusetts MOMA in North Adams in the past two years. Both are spectacular spaces, without much to show in them yet. Bilbao's Guggenheim doesn't have this shortcoming. I'd like to go back and see more of Bilbao. Another highlight was the day-long transit of the Kiel Canal, which separates Denmark and the Jutland peninsula from the bulk of Germany. All in all, a nice day.
This extended tour confirmed our strategy of getting away from the crowd, going off on our own, or with another couple, and exploring. We did that a lot; basically we saw Scandinavia that way. The cities, museums, and historical sites, the castles and fortresses. But mainly the people. We ate and drank in street cafes and watched them go by. We rode the trams and walked the shopping streets, looking for bargains, and even did some bargaining ourselves. We saw lots of nice, attractive people. Many spoke English. Never a problem in Scandinavia, and even in France we got by without a hassle. We found tours sold on the ship were often available ashore for as little as half the on-board cost. Better, we found compatible English-speaking taxi drivers, and listening to what they thought was the best use of our time. If we liked what we heard, we hired them to show it to us. That worked well. The only glitch was in Amsterdam, where the highly touted Floriade, a once-in-ten-year flower show, turned out to be over-rated and over-priced, not worth even a side trip. The canal tour there, even though recorded sequentially in five languages, was interesting, and the walk back from Central Station to our hotel on the Prinsengracht near the Anne Frank House, a must see itself, was even better.
We found the Anne Frank House open evenings, allowing us to avoid the long lines seen earlier in the day. Touring the house where eight people hid from the Nazis for more than two years, experiencing the feel and size of the spaces where they lived, ate, slept, etc., is a moving, truly unsettling experience. The excerpts from this young girl's diary in the exhibits were particularly effective in conveying the essence of the experience. It forces you to wonder how a civilized people could allow such things to happen, let alone actually do them. Hitler and his henchmen didn't personally carry out these atrocities, the German people and their cohorts in, for example, Norway, Holland and Eastern Europe did. The place stopped us cold, it was just simply frightening.
After this emotional stop, we had dinner at "Moeders", a nearby Dutch restaurant where we shared a huge sampler-type meal with beer, wonderfully served by three charming, over-worked but cheerful women. This was our last night away, and a good finale to our overly long trip. We were really happy to be home the next night!
We've traveled widely, and had earlier cruised with Cunard twice, Celebrity once, and Radisson three times. We've never been as dissatisfied or disillusioned as we are after this trip. Travel is just getting to be too much of a hassle to be enjoyable. Not only was the cruise disappointing, but the five star "preferred hotel" I selected in Amsterdam and the business class flight home were both at best second-rate, if that. We were awakened by bright sunlight leaking around the drapes in the Pulitzer Hotel before 6 AM both mornings, even after we asked to have them fixed. Many of the towels in this so-called "luxury" hotel were threadbare. On the 9½ hour Martinair business class flight to Orlando, we were stuffed into very tight seats with limited legroom and atrocious food. Orlando international arrivals is a debilitating, two-stage, delay-prone trial, even if you're rested and fit, which I wasn't and am not.
I do lots of research, both on-line (Internet), by talking to people: fellow cruisers and travel agents, and by reading everything I can get my hands on. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I sure was fooled this time. So we're re-thinking our future travel and cruise plans. Right now, our planned 30+ day trans-Pacific cruise to Australia this fall or next winter is on hold, indefinitely. Perhaps a summer place in the Adirondacks is a better use of our discretionary dollars, vs. the frequent traveling we've been spending them on.
In our opinion, the June 3 - July 12 inaugural voyages of Holland American's Prinsendam from New York to Southampton, then around western Europe to Copenhagen, and finally through the Baltic and on to Amsterdam, was nearer an ordeal than the wonderful vacation we had planned and anticipated. My wife's been known to be tartly critical before, but this time her terse opinion is right on the mark: a bummer!
Our flight from Calgary, through Frankfurt, to Barcelona was smooth and uneventful. Because of the time change, we left Calgary at 6 pm, on Apr.17, and arrived in Barcelona at 2:30 pm local time. Travel time was approximately 12 ½ hrs. After dinner was served on the airplane, I took a sleeping pill, and shortly thereafter I was snoozing and dreaming about the cruise.
We were met by a Seabourn rep, at the baggage claim, taken to a mini bus, and zipped off to the ship. As we were being processed at the pier check in counter a white gloved crew member, took our carry on bags, and escorted us to our cabin. I was impressed, as they hadn't even waited for us to get to the gangway.
The Cabin: As we walked into our PH Category cabin, my mouth hung open. It was huge (362 sq ft), with a walk in closet, with a private safe, a full size bathroom with tub and shower, and had a separate and additional room with a vanity sink and the toilet. The living area, although not a separate room, was furnished withfull size leather sectional sofa, and coffee table. There were two desk areas. One with full cabinetry above and below the desk, that also contained the bar fridge, the other that I presumed was to be used as a dressing desk for Mrs. Kuki, as it was rimmed with vanity lighting, and the hair dryer was located in one of it's drawers.
Mrs. Kuki and I were well beyond the normal interpretation of over packed for this cruise. So much so, that when Mrs. Kuki said she thought she forgot to lock to the door to the house when we left, I said it wouldn't matter, we had everything with us. Even so, after unpacking, at least half the storage area in the cabin was empty.
The balcony was very large, and without question, the most private balcony I've had. It was furnished with two full size loungers and a small table. The loungers definitely looked like they had seen better days. Considering the ship had recently undergone a major refurbishment, this surprised me. Someone forgot to put balcony furnishings on the list for needing refurbishment. With the size of the balcony, a couple of upright chairs, along with a larger size table, would have made this a perfect spot. Mrs. Kuki loves having a lounger on the balcony, I prefer to sit upright (figuring I'm going to be laid out horizontally soon enough).
Our cabin stewardess, Beatrix, let us know immediately, that she would do anything required to make our stay onboard more pleasant. She was warm, and friendly, and above all efficient.
Public Rooms: The central area of the ship is somewhat open like an atrium from decks 4 - 8, but is very small. The only openness is created by the central stairway here. None of these decks have any lounge, or seating area, where one could sit and people watch as I'm want to do on occasion. The area is simply to small to allow for any furniture for this purpose.
The Norway Deck contains the majority of the public rooms. It's arranged pretty efficiently, with the Norway Lounge furthest forward, and heading aft, you come across the shopping area, the casino, the totally new Compass Rome, the new coffee bar, movie theater, photo gallery, shore excursion office, library, card room, computer room, and the Lounge. The walk fore to aft is very well designed, with all of this laid out along the way.
The Norway Lounge is large enough to seat all passengers at one time, and serves as the ships main show room. It's furnished with lounge style seats and tables, rather than theater style seating common now on the newer ships. I prefer these lounge style seats.
The Sun's casino is small, but accommodates a number of tables for both Blackjack and Caribbean Stud Poker. There is also a Craps table, and Roulette Table. There are slot machines lining the wall, but due to the limited size of the room, there aren't hundreds of them. The Casino is very elegant, and had a most relaxing atmosphere. I think the small number of slot machines helped create this atmosphere, which I much preferred over the casinos of the mega ships.
Mrs. Kuki and I really enjoyed the coffee bar, located just outside of the Casino. It's quite small, intimate, and very comfortable, and serves the expressos, cappuccino, and hot chocolate ( our choice). The hot chocolates and coffees are complimentary. The only charge here is for alcoholic drinks.
The public room onboard is the Stella Polaris Lounge, located at the highest point on the ship (just above the bridge). The Stella is somewhat horse shoe shaped around the bar, with floor to ceiling panoramic windows leading out to the sea. The view from here is always interesting, but the room itself competes admirably with the view. And in the evenings the addition of the comforting sounds of a harpist truly sets this lounge apart. This may be the most comfortable lounges I've experienced at sea, and it's certainly now on my list of favorites.
Food: Normally buffets on ships are rather unimpressive. I've learned to accept moderate quality and selection at buffets in exchange for convenience of not having to leave the sun or the pool deck. The buffet on the Sun certainly proved you don't have to compromise. This was the best buffet I've seen at sea. The food was terrific, and the selections were broad. Lunches here were a treat. There is also the option of a pool side grille for hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts.
The Dining room is made up of two large areas joined by a smaller hallway like area. In total this space is large enough to seat all passengers at one sitting. This allows Seabourn to offer assigned seating, open dining. We could go to dinner in the dining room anytime we chose between 7 and 9 pm. This is a wonderful option. A couple of times when we got back from golf later than expected, I was still able to have dinner in the dining room. Something I wouldn't have been able to do if was had an assigned dinner time.
We were seated in the smaller area in the middle of the dining room, and very much enjoyed it's location. We were able to enjoy the conversation of our table mates without anyone have to raise their voice.
I enjoyed all our meals in the dining room. I had some concerns the food might be too fancy for my pretty ordinary pallet, but I was proven wrong. While the menu did offer some of the more exotic foods, I never had a problem finding something to please. And what I did order always came prepared as requested, beautifully presented, and tasty.
We enjoyed room service on a number of occasions. The odd time for a late night snack, but a number of times we ordered full breakfasts delivered to our cabin. We pre ordered our breakfasts the night before, and allowed it's delivery to serve as our wake up call. This worked out great on days we had to be up early if I was golfing, and again the quality of the food was excellent.
Service: I felt the level of service we experienced on this cruise is what sets Seabourn apart, and qualifies it as a luxury cruise. All the staff seemed genuinely eager to please. It really was a case of our wish being their command. I'm not sure how you train people to care, but I felt that this crew really did.
In terms of service, the dining room was the only area of the ship where things were maybe slightly less than perfect. The first night service here was a bit spotty, but without question improved significantly each night. Conversation with our table mates was ongoing and animated. I believe if we had taken the time to get to know our servers here a bit better, the service would have been even better. Unlike a restaurant on land, on a cruise ship, the servers and the passengers are spending a considerable amount of time together, and I think forming at least some relationship with the servers makes them more comfortable and willing to please. I know it also generally helps make the dining experience more fun for me.
If we hadn't had to leave the ship early, after just a few days, I have no doubt that I would have got to know these people better.
Each and every staff member from the Captain to the maintenance people went out of their way to greet us with a smile, and seemed genuinely interested in making our cruise more enjoyable.
Entertainment: I anticipated that this might be the weak link in the Seabourn experience, when compared to what we were used to from other lines. In fact, the entertainment onboard was as good as any I've experienced. Admittedly some of it was not quite up my alley, but not being a song and dance guy, that happens on every cruise. As the main show room is large enough to accommodate all the passengers, there is no necessity for two show times.
Tour Mates: I was fortunate to be a part of a "media tour" on the Sun. We were to participate in a Golf package put together by Seabourn Cruise Line and Wide World of Golf. The group was escorted by WWG's host Alan Sym, from Troon, Scotland, and PGA professional Dale Taylor, from Monterey CA. We golfed at some great golf courses in Cannes, Florence and Rome. Well, one would be hard pressed to call what I did golf. However, the condition of my game did allow me to see much more of the golf courses than the rest of the group. The other members of our "media tour" were Adam & Mellisa Brady, of the Northern California Golf Assoc., Steve Goodwin, from Washington D.C. (writing for Met Golf Magazine), Tom Cann & Melinda Hogan, of Miami (writing for PortHole Magazine), and Ann Liquorini & Steve Geller, of NYC, who have a show on the Fox TV network, as well as do some work for USA Today. I mention them, because these are the people that put up with watching my UGLY golf swing on the courses, and listening to my bad jokes on the buses to and from.
The "group" hit it off so well , it surely made that portion of the cruise that much better. It was a fun group of very nice people, and if any of the publications I mentioned are in your area, look for their work, so you can hear their side of the story :)
Itinerary: I can't say anything more than WOW. Just a superb itinerary! I'm sure we could visit these ports a dozen more times and still find places and things to fall in love with.
Summary: The Seabourn Sun is the definition of understated elegance. Other cruise lines we've sailed work at creating an elegant environment, but the Sun simply IS! I never presumed to be an elegant person, but I felt so totally comfortable on this ship, I must be Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to leave the ship in Rome, and miss the final portion of the cruise. I never like to leave a ship at the end of a cruise, let alone mid cruise. But having to leave the Sun was much more than difficult; it almost brought us to tears. Seabourn Sun is not a bargain hunters dream, however for anyone looking for a true luxury cruise, you need look no further. And please... take me with you!!!