Circumnavigation of Africa on the Prinsendam-"Grand Africa Voyage" 73 days
Prinsendam Cruise Review to Other (Asia/Africa/Middle East)
Review SummaryBy far our longest cruise, not certain if HAL has offered another voyage anything like this one since, as four sea days took place place between Kenya and Oman just when the pirate activity was getting worse. HAL had to talk the Dutch government into supplying a warship escort for us over that stretch.
It was a wonderful trip and most ports visited were a first for us. We learned an lot about the continent and other people. There was so much that to try and relate even a small percentage isn't practical for this review. A lot of it was unique to cruising, let alone the warship escort there was much more, for instance as we progressed south down the west coast of Africa and neared the equator the captain decided it was within his purview to alter course about 100 miles. He did this in order to take us further out into the Atlantic to "zero-zero". A rare experience indeed. Zero-Zero refers to zero degrees longitude and zero degree latitude. After completing that the ship's company put together nice certificates for all of us stating where we had been.
The cruise began in Fort Lauderdale Florida and ended in Lisbon. Itinerary: Lauderdale, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Maarten, Funchal Maderia, Casablanca, Agadir Morocco, Senegal, The Gambia, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Walvis Bay Namibia, Luderitz Namibia, Cape Town (3 nights), Durban, Richards Bay, Reunion Island, Mauritius, Seychelles, Kenya (3 nights), Oman, Safaga Egypt, Suez Canal, Alexandria Egypt, Libya (canceled and replaced by Malta), Tunisia, Malaga Spain, Cadiz Spain, Lisbon.
The Prinsendam is a great ship, in that it is designed and fitted for exploration cruising. Indeed it was, for instance, when we left Agadir Morocco a huge sandstorm off the Sierra Desert was developing and blowing west. For two sea days and nights we were engulfed in sand even though we were well over a hundred miles off the coast of Africa. The ship was covered in yellow sand all the way to the water line. Sea water couldn't be used to wash the ship down and since the fresh water made by the ship's desalination plant (Fresh water at those African ports was in short supply and wasn't potable enough for the ship to purchase anyway.) was necessary for all on board functions so we had to run covered in grit. To make matters worse, one night we had a slight shower which didn't wash any sand off but simply made a muddy mess upon the decks and the gooey stuff would drip down from higher up onto those walking outside. At one time, the ships deck crew got humorous and started drawing smiley faces in the sand high up.
When we booked the cruise we had some concerns about the length and being cooped up in a small stateroom for so long, we did have a balcony, A-152. (This was a last minute upgrade from a non-balcony cabin and was on the port side which gave us a view of the continent for the entire voyage, yeah.) Fortunately, we loved it, matter of fact, we could have stayed on a lot longer, a TA to Florida instead of terminating in Lisbon would have been great, but the ship was scheduled for European sailing that forthcoming summer season, actually, we were on what amounted to a long repositioning voyage.