For our 14-Day Celtic Explorer Cruise on Holland America’s ms Prinsendam, we booked a category G ocean-view stateroom. 
Holland America ms Prinsendam at anchor in Bantry Bay, Ireland
When booking a cruise, we often select a stateroom “guarantee,” leaving the specific cabin assignment up to the cruise line. (This strategy can sometimes result in good upgrades.)  When sailing on Holland America’s 835-guest ms Prinsendam, however, we prefer to select a specific stateroom. 

The “Elegant Explorer” — as the Prinsendam is known — dates back to 1988 when she was launched as the Royal Viking Sun. As much as we love this ship –we spent 70+ days on her exploring Europe in 2007 — we also know there is significant variation between staterooms, even among those in the same category.

For this cruise we chose stateroom 421, a category G ocean-view accommodation. Take a look inside…

entrance to stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineTo reach the entrance to stateroom 421 on the Prinsendam, you first step into a small interior hallway that leads to two cabins — #421 and #419.  When studying the Prinsendam deck plan closely, you can see these little hallways associated with some interior, ocean-view and vista suite staterooms.

With their entry doors separated from the main hallway, these staterooms are removed from potential noise in the main hallway.

interior view, stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineThis is the view as you first walk into stateroom 421 and look toward the windows. This cabin is located on the Dolphin deck — the lowest passenger deck — and is toward the front part of the Prinsendam where the ship begins to narrow. As noted on the deck plan, stateroom 421 has portholes rather than a full picture window.

Said to be 191 sq. ft. in size, stateroom 421 has two beds that convert into one king-size bed, plus a sofa. The desk is narrow, as is the walkway around the foot of the bed.
Since the only electrical plugs are on the desk, we brought along this Portable Travel Power Strip with USB Charging Ports to keep our smartphones, computers and other devices charged.

A refrigerator is hidden in the cabinet below the television.

As you turn around to face the other side of stateroom 421, you see two sliding doors.

walk-in closet, stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineBehind one sliding door, you will find a walk-in closet, with two racks for hanging clothes, and a wardrobe with a number of shelves and drawers for storage. Note that all ocean-view staterooms do not have walk-in closets. Stateroom 425, just two cabins away from #421, has a very different configuration for its closet and bathroom.

walk-in bathroom, stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineThe other sliding door in stateroom 421 leads into the bathroom, which features a tub and shower combination. Next door, stateroom 419 has a shower only.

shower/tub - stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineThe shower features an adjustable rain head (great for people of all heights); while the tub has several grab bars.

Note the in-shower dispenser of Elemis shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.  The tiled mirror over the tub helps the bathroom feel spacious and well-lit.

sink - stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineAcross from the tub, the single sink has a shelf below for storage.

The lighting on the mirror is my favorite feature; it offers some of the best bathroom lighting at sea for makeup application.

"hallway" to stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineAs you exit the stateroom, here is a look at the interior “hallway” that leads to cabins #419 and #421 on the Prinsendam cruise ship.

Our bottom line on Ocean-view Stateroom 421 on Holland America’s ms Prinsendam:

  • This stateroom is one of the best category G ocean-view cabins as it one of the farthest from the front of the ship, where you may feel rough seas.
  • It is spacious at 191 sq. ft. — large for an ocean-view stateroom.
  • We like the Prinsendam staterooms that include a tub/shower combination in the bathroom, and a walk-in closet. Some cruise guests, however, do not like stepping into the tub and prefer the shower-only staterooms.
  • The interior “hallway” leading to this stateroom makes it quiet and peaceful.
  • While the Prinsendam is a small ship, the elevators can be slow. Walking to the dining room requires going up to flights of stairs, while it is seven flights up to the Crow’s Nest.

Have you sailed on Holland America Line’s Prinsendam cruise ship? If so, what is your favorite stateroom?

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Take a look inside these other cruise ship cabins:

During our pre-cruise stay in Amsterdam, several locals recommended that we check out Mossel en Gin Foodbar in the Westpark neighborhood. When we first trekked to the impressive Westergasfabriek (a huge park created from the buildings and grounds of a former gas factory), we were disappointed to find this restaurant specializing in mussels and gin did not open until 4 pm on weekdays.

Mussel and Gin Food bar, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsOn Friday evening, we headed back to Mossel & Gin, this time taking the GVB public tram from central Amsterdam near the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) to the Van Hallstraat stop, which is about a 1 minute walk to reach the Westergasfabriek (Western Gas Factory park). The ride took about 20 minutes and required one tram connection.

Once in the park, we headed left to reach Mossel & Gin, were we were delighted to be seated on the outdoor enclosed patio just before sunset.

Gin and tonics at Mussel and Gin Food bar, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsWhen in Amsterdam, we’ve learned to order the local favorite — cocktails made with gin. At Mossel & Gin, there is a full-page menu of gin and tonic cocktail choices, divided by categories: Fresh, Citrus, Herbal and Sweet.

We ordered the infused gin with pineapple and coriander from the Fresh selections, and the Opihr gin with ginger and lemon grass that’s one of the Citrus offerings.

These cocktails arrived perfectly prepared in large balloon glass. Each table has a tube of zaanse Ginmayo (Gin mayonnaise) that you can use, or purchase to take home. lobster croquettes. shrimp bitterballs, Mussel and Gin, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsWith our cocktails, we ordered the lobster croquettes and shrimp bitterballs with gin mayo to share.

Burrata salad - Mussel and Gin Food bar, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsWe also ordered the burrata salad with lentils, zucchini, balsamic vinegar, tomato and olive oil. This is the small portion for sharing. There is also a large portion of this vegetarian dish available.

classic mussels at Mussel and Gin Food bar, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsOf course, we had to try the restaurant’s namesake dish. We ordered our mussels prepared in the classic style with white wine, leek, carrot, celery and butter. The fresh, meaty mussels were served with a large side of fries.

Even though we were hungry, this was more food than we could eat. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and terrific food, and left very happy that we made the effort to dine at Mossel en Gin.

Getting to Mossel & Gin from Central Amsterdam

Getting around via public transportation is easier if you purchase an Amsterdam 1- to 7-Day Municipal Public Transport Ticket.

We pre-purchased a 1-day ticket from Get Your Guide.

Upon showing our receipt at the GVB Ticket Office (we went to the one across from Amsterdam Central Station), we were given a GVB chip card that allowed us to ride on any municipal trams, buses, ferries and the metro, without worrying about fares or transfers.

tram route to Mossel & Gin, from central AmsterdamTo reach Mossel & Gin from central Amsterdam, we first caught the 17 tram from a stop on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal street. Once the 17 tram reached the Marnixstraat/Rozengracht stop, we got off of the tram. We then crossed the street to catch tram 10 at the Rozengracht stop. We then rode the 10 tram to Van Hallstraat, were we got off and walked about 2 blocks to enter the Westergasfabriek. 

When we were ready to leave, we returned via the opposite direction.

What restaurant or bar would you recommend when in Amsterdam?

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For an in-depth look at Amsterdam’s restaurant scene, read

Must Eat Amsterdam: An Eclectic Selection of Culinary Locations

If you’re craving a taste of the Netherlands, a box of these cookies might help:

Daelmans Amsterdam Cookies

When planning our visit to Amsterdam, we appreciated the detailed maps and descriptions of each neighborhood in this guide:
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Amsterdam

If you enjoy exploring a city on foot, check out:

National Geographic Walking Amsterdam: The Best of the City

Exploring Westerpark in Amsterdam

by Janis on June 19, 2017

When we travel to a city that we’ve visited before, we try to find new experiences. A different neighborhood, a new restaurant, or a place that people who actually live in the city tell us they like frequent.

Westerpark, Amsterdam Photo by David van der Mark

A sunny summer day at Westerpark in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Photo by Westerpark, Amsterdam Photo by David van der Mark.

During our pre-cruise visit to Amsterdam in early June, when we ask locals what they liked to do in their city, we kept hearing, “I like Westerpark.”

“My favorite way to spend a sunny day is at Westerpark. Enjoy the park, and then have some food and cocktails at Mossel & Gin.

We decided to add a visit to Westerpark to our agenda.

From our hotel – the Renaissance Amsterdam – in the heart of central Amsterdam, we walked west, through the Western Canals and the Jordaan neighborhoods to the Westerpark neighborhood, part of Amsterdam West.  While we like to walk, this was a very long distance. (My Fitbit indicated we walked more than 10 miles in total at the end of this day.)

Westerpark, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsWe arrived at the Westerpark just before 12 noon on a sunny Thursday. We found a vast park filled with green space, walking trails, a concert/exhibition space and a variety of eating and drinking establishments. Since it was a beautiful day, people were out enjoying the sunshine, some perhaps, just over their lunch hour.

Westerpark is a peaceful, urban oasis that has an interesting past. Originally called Westerplantsoen (Western Garden), the small park was created in 1845 to give the residents of the emerging working-class neighborhood fresh air.

In 1885, next to the original park, the Imperial Continental Gas Association built Westergasfabriek — a vast industrial facility designed produced gas from coal. (Gas was needed to light Amsterdam’s dark streets, among other uses.) Renowned architect Isaac Gosschalk designed the gas plant’s symmetrical red brick buildings in the Dutch neo-renaissance style popular in 1880’s Amsterdam. Gosschalk also designed the Heineken Brewery of the same era.

By 1899, Westergasfabriek became the Netherlands’ largest gas extraction plant. The facilities continued operating until 1967. Natural gas discoveries in the North Sea had made Westergasfabriek uneconomical to operate.

When the gas plant closed, some buildings were demolished while others were used as storage. The remaining buildings were abandoned until 1992, when they were used– temporarily — to host cultural and creative activities. The large gas holding tank became a spectacular venue for the first Amsterdam mass techno raves.

This activity caused local residents to see Westergasfabriek as historically significant and important for the future of art and culture in Amsterdam. The 22 buildings were listed officially as monuments. But the area was polluted with by-products of gas production, and required a lengthy and expensive environmental cleanup.

American landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson was hired to design the area’s remodel. In 2003, her vision was finally completed with the original Westerpark incorporated with the vast land and buildings of the former gas factory, to become one of Amsterdam’s biggest cultural venues. Now officially called the Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek (Western Gas Factory Culture Park), visitors will discover a huge park with wading pools, walking trails, breweries, restaurants, clubs, music festivals, and much more.

The Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek reminded us of the similar Gas Works Park in Seattle, Washington, as well as that city’s newer, waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park.

Mossel en Gin Foodbar, Westerpark, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsAfter walking through the huge park for about an hour, we located the recommended Mossel en Gin Foodbar, but were disappointed to learn that restaurant did not open until 4 pm on Thursdays. We vowed to come back another evening.

WestergasTerras, Westerpark, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsNow ravenously hungry, we walked onward, following the park’s trails. Eventually, we stumbled onto the WestergasTerras – a restaurant with a large outdoor terrace. Sitting outside, we enjoyed lunch with a view on the famous Gashouder (a concert venue created out of a huge gas-holding tank) and the park’s water gardens.)Old Cheese Spread Sandwich, Westergas Terrace, Westerpark, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsWhile the lunch menu at WestergasTerras is limited to sandwiches, salads and soups, the old cheese spread sandwich on whole wheat bread was anything but standard. It paired perfectly with a glass of white wine, while Mr. Jones enjoyed the Croque Monsieur with a local beer. Throughout our stay in Amsterdam, we were impressed with the fresh produce in every cafe and restaurant we tried.

After wondering through more of the park’s gorgeous paths, we soaked in the sunshine, and vowed to return.

We took a different route back during the long walk back to our hotel.

Have you visited Westerpark, or some other unique part of Amsterdam?

Interact with us on TwitterFacebookPinterest or Instagram.

When planning our visit to Amsterdam, we appreciated the detailed maps and descriptions of each neighborhood in this guide:
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Amsterdam

If you enjoy exploring a city on foot, check out:

National Geographic Walking Amsterdam: The Best of the City

A Side Trip to Utrecht from Amsterdam

June 15, 2017

One of many things we love about visiting Amsterdam is the ease and speed of traveling to other parts of the Netherlands or Belgium by train. We’ve made side trips to the Dutch cities of Leiden, Rotterdam, Den Haag (The Hague), Delft and Gouda, as well as to Antwerp, Belgium, during past trips to Amsterdam. During […]

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