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Setting sail from Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities to visit, as well as also being a perfect base to explore the nearby landscape of windmills and dikes. The Amsterdam canal belt is now officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and from them there are so many neighbourhoods to explore, such as the Jordaan with its higgledy-piggledy streets and its famed garden courtyards (hofjes). There are also a wealth of famous museums and galleries to choose from, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House, not to mention some more, shall we say, quirky options.
Explore by water, or by bicycle to get a feel for the city – a hop on hop off canal boat, or rented bike or pedalo will do the trick.
Brussels is a very multicultural city, as you'd expect given its position at the political centre of Europe, and boasts an excellent selection of restaurants, cafés and bars, where you can sample moules-frites, Belgian waffles or dangerously drinkable Trappist beer.
Rouen has endured a turbulent history: it was here that Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in 1431, and much of the city was destroyed during World War II. Many cruise visitors head straight for Paris, an hour away by train, which is a shame since there’s so much to see in Rouen, including a beautiful cathedral and the atmospheric Medieval quarter.
France: La Rochelle
La Rochelle is an attractive seaside town of elegant limestone facades and agreeable weather, known as La Ville Blanche (the ‘White City’). The heart of the city is the atmospheric Vieux Port, guarded by three imposing towers which offer excellent views of the harbour and nearby islands.
Bordeaux sits at the centre of the world's most famous wine region, and is home to a beguiling blend of beautiful buildings, sophisticated gastronomy and high culture. It's a marvellous place to spend some time, whether it's a day sampling wines, an evening at the opera or a night on the tiles.
Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon’s colourful cityscape includes Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums. But for many the best times will be had wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets, with their great local food, wine and music.
Sovereignty of ‘The Rock’ has been a thorny issue ever since Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713, though on the ground it’s clear where most locals’ sympathies lie. Gibraltar is often described as ‘more British than Britain’, a curious enclave of red postboxes, double decker buses and chip shops.
Cartagena was founded by the Carthaginians around 227 BC, who named it after their home city in North Africa. These days the city is best known for its well-preserved Roman theatre, which was remarkably only discovered in 1987, in spite of its location in the centre of town.
Italy: Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world’s great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
Greece: Katakolon (Olympia)
The little seaside town of Katakolon, on the western coast of the Peloponnese, is the gateway to ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Games and the place where the Olympic flame begins its journey every four years. Make the most of your visit with a guided tour of the ruins, and don’t miss the treasures of the Archaeological Museum.
Egypt: Port Said (Cairo)
Port Said is the gateway to Egypt's capital, Cairo. Obviously the highlight of your visit may well be the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, but on no account neglect a visit to the Egyptian Museum, which has a truly stupendous collection of ancient artefacts, not least, of course, the Tutankhamen treasures.
Israel: Haifa (Jerusalem)
It's difficult to overstate the spiritual significance of Jerusalem, a holy city to three different faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Whatever your personal beliefs, it's impossible not to be moved by sights such as the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Turkish port of Kusadasi is the gateway to Ephesus, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in the Eastern Mediterranean. This was the Roman capital of Asia Minor, and the remains constitute the most complete classical city in Europe.
Sun-kissed Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, is steeped in history; the medieval heart of Rhodes Town was once home to the crusading Knights of St John, and later fell to the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The hillside village of Lindos, with its pretty whitewashed houses, is another highlight.
Situated on the north eastern tip of Sicily, so close to the Italian mainland you can almost touch it, Messina is the busy main entry point to the island. The city was flattened by an earthquake in 1908, and again by Allied bombing in 1943, so few historical sights remain, although the cathedral is one of Sicily’s most impressive.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed centre of Naples rewards exploration, and in addition to the many cultural treasures waiting to be unearthed Neapolitans are rightly proud of their food; this is where you’ll find the best pizza in Italy. The city also acts as a gateway to the fascinating remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the beautiful Amalfi coast.
Arriving in Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world's great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. As the saying goes, the city wasn't built in a day, and if you want to make the most of Rome you'll need to spend at least a couple of nights here. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
Plan ahead to make the most of your time – Rome is an exhausting city to visit so you need to pace yourself. There are plenty of parks, gardens and squares to relax and enjoy time out.
Your home from home
The Prinsendam is a one-off – a very special ship which has been captivating its guests (for those with long memories, this ship was formerly Seabourn Sun) for many years. As Prinsendam, it is the most intimate Holland America Lines ship.
What we love
Prinsendam's wide-ranging itineraries, and manoeuvrable size, make her the perfect choice for the more adventurous traveller, and the lovely artwork featured around this classic ship makes travelling on her all the more special.
|Crew||470 International Staff|
The intimate elegance of Prinsendam makes her quite distinctive. Her clients are inquisitive and well travelled, and the high levels of loyalty she commands makes for a very friendly and club-like atmosphere.
|Cruising Speed||22 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Two nights in Amsterdam
There is a fantastic range of canal front hotels to choose from, but we love the new Waldorf Astoria.
Visit windmills in Zaanse Schans, the flowers at Keukenhof, or the cheese market in Alkmaar.
Extend your stay in Rome
There are so many great hotels but we particularly love the Campo de’ Fiori, for its great location in the centre of everything.
Beat the queues
Get a private guide to help you jump the queues into the Vatican who can whizz you through the galleries to see the essentials and ensure your best view of the Sistine Chapel.