Grandeur of the Seas Gallery
Royal Viking Sun << Back Ship Gallery Index

Ship Gallery

Since Royal Viking Line was formed in 1972, it had established an enviable reputation for first-class cruising aboard its 3 identical ships, Royal Viking Star, Royal Viking Sky & Royal Viking Sea but the lengthening of all 3 ships in 1981/82 failed to deliver the financial rewards anticipated and in 1984, the line was bought by the Kloster Group, at the time, also owners of Norwegian Caribbean Line.

The luxury brand of Royal Viking Line was maintained by Kloster but with increasing competition and a now ageing fleet, Kloster set about ordering a brand new ship.

Royal Viking Sun (1988)
37,845 grt; length 674 ft; 740 passengers

Show Picture Full Size
She made her maiden appearance in the winter sunshine, moored on the River Thames at Greenwich in December 1988, when I went to see her. However, it wasn't until 1991 that I was lucky enough to get aboard on a visit with the Ocean Liner Society. By this time, she had already established herself as the finest and most exclusive cruise ship afloat and it was on the strength of that visit, that Dad, John, Andrew & I booked to travel on her in 1992!
(left) Her Maiden Voyage from Greenwich in December 1988

Transatlantic & Mediterranean
25th April - 14th May 1992
View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size
View from the
Bridge Wing
The stunning
Stella Polaris Lounge
The spacious
The Lido & Pool
from Observation Deck
The aft-facing
Garden Room Cafe

One of the ship's most striking features was the stunning Stella Polaris Room on Sky Deck above the Bridge. With 180-degrees of floor-to-ceiling windows, afternoon tea was served here by white-gloved waiters to the sound of the classical harp. Here I discovered chocolate-dipped strawberries!

Her sea-handling however, was far from ideal; in certain conditions, she had a tendency to pitch noticeably, with the unfortunate result that the contents of the lap pool could be regularly deposited on the sun-deck below! See photos right >> Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size
Cabin 317
The Builders' Model Serene at Anchor
at Villefranche, France
One of her

Even cabins in the lower grades were spacious, comfortable and well-equipped, with a "proper" bath and walk-in closet, while the atmoshpere throughout the ship was uncrowded and exclusive.

Show Picture Full Size In the Royal Viking Dining Room, the food was excellent and the service equally refined. See sample menus (right) >> Open Captain's Welcome Dinner Menu Open Italian Dinner Menu Open French Dinner Menu

Entertainment aboard was also pretty good. There was the usual motley assortment of singers & dancers of course, but Royal Viking Line prided itself in obtaining some of the World's best artistes and this voyage was no exception; a brilliant Juggler, an amazing Trumpet Vituoso, a Comedian, a renowned classical Guitarist, the incomparable Tommy Dorsey Orchestra >> & the wonderful Huber Marionettes >> There was also Juli, our heavenly harpist in the Stella Polaris Room and our lecturers even included Sex Therapist & American radio personality, Dr Ruth Westheimer! Show Picture Full Size

Show Programme Cover Full Size Show Programme Cover Full Size Even the Production Shows were given a 5-star touch by providing souvenir programmes and with Royal Viking Line being a Norwegian company, there was the ever-popular, traditional "Norwegian Night" of dancing by some of the crew.
Souvenir Programmes (left): "And That's Dancing" Show >> and Norwegian Folk Dancers >>

Show Picture Full Size
(Above) Rendezvous in Madeira; Royal Viking Sun (37,845 grt) with her brand new "baby sister", Royal Viking Queen (9,975 grt)

By 1992 however, all 3 of the original ships that had once been Royal Viking Line had been transferred and even as Royal Viking Sun was joined by a new smaller sister, Royal Viking Queen, management by NCL was introducing economies that loyal passengers were beginning to notice. In 1994, Kloster Cruises (the lines' owners) were declared bankrupt, NCL sold and Royal Viking Line wound-up. Royal Viking Sun was now sold to Cunard who, for a time, marketed the ship under a its new brand "Cunard Royal Viking" and it was in 1996 that, as a result of the withdrawal of the ageing Sagafjord, we would find our holiday plans transferred to once again experience this ship.

Gala Tropical Christmas & New Year
18th December 1996 - 9th January 1997
View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Show Picture Full Size Never having had Christmas at sea before, this was an unusual experience, albeit a enjoyable one. However, with only 653 passengers on this trip, at times the ship seemed almost deserted but when "Santa Claus" arrived in the middle of the afternoon to visit the tiny group of children aboard, matters took on an almost surreal aspect! Show Picture Full Size

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size
The Garden Room
overlooking the aft pool
The Gym
part of the Golden Door Spa
Sun Plaza
The Main Lobby
Midnight Sun Lounge
Dressed for Christmas

But financial woes and the cut-throat cruise industry would now see Cunard Line bought by the giant Carnival Corporation in 1998, whereupon Royal Viking Sun finally gave up her trademark "Sea Eagle" when she was transferred to Seabourn Cruises, one of Carnival's other luxury brands.

Seabourn Sun (1999)
37,845 grt; length 674 ft; 740 passengers

However, she didn't fit comfortably under the Seabourn brand, which appealed more to those travellers requiring the exclusive facilities of smaller ships, more in the nature of private yachts. So Carnival decided to rebrand her under their luxury mass-market label, Holland America Line.

Prinsendam (2002)
37,983 grt; length 674 ft; 790 passengers
Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size
Prinsendam & Saga Rose
(Together in Stockholm, September 2005)
Prinsendam's European Debut - June 2002
(In Southampton - showing her stern alternations)

Following her refit, she emerged in a flattering new colour-scheme but closer inspection revealed that her aft-facing Midnight Sun Lounge had been turned into 10 new cabins (later, further extended to 31 cabins) increasing her passenger capacity while internally, part of her large single-sitting Dining Room had been sacrificed to provide a new bar-lounge, the Ocean Bar, and an alternative dining venue, the Pinnacle Grill. Up top, both her Lido Cafe and the Health Spa had been enlarged. However, the aft lap-pool (previously prone to eject its contents onto the deck below) had simply been relocated further aft, which cannot have improved matters!

Tilbury - 23rd July 2010
Ocean Liner Society Ship Visit aboard Prinsendam
As a member of the Ocean Liner Society, I was among a privileged group given the opportunity of a tour of Prinsendam in Tilbury, under the guidance of none other than her Master, Captain Albert Schoonderbeek.

The visit was, for me, tinged with nostalgia of course but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with what Holland America Line have done with her.
Show Picture Full Size

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size
The restyled
Main Atrium
Explorer's Lounge
(The Compass Rose Room)
The beautifully restyled
La Fontaine Dining Room
Ocean Bar
(A previous Dining Room)

While I was saddened to note the loss of the ship's wheel and harp that once graced the stunning Stella Polaris Room, the restyling of her rooms is elegant and supremely comfortable. And although she has lost her aft-facing Midnight Sun Lounge, the transformation of one of her Dining Rooms to provide a new lounge and a-la-carte restaurant has been achieved thoughtfully and seamlessly.

Now 2 sittings for dinner, she may no longer hold the covetted cachet of 5-star plus but she has instead established herself rather well in her role as the Line's "Elegant Explorer"

Ironically, the first time I visited aboard Royal Viking Sun in 1991, it was also in Tilbury with the Ocean Liner Society (OLS). As a result of that visit, we travelled aboard her in 1992 and I would now rather like to "close the circle" by travelling on her again. Meanwhile, you can find my detailed report of our Group's visit, as well as lots more pictures, on the OLS Website at Prinsendam Visit >>.

Holy Land Explorer
20th October - 3rd November 2016
View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Show Picture Full Size Well, it may have taken a few years but we did indeed "close the circle" and it was rather like returning to the "good old days". Food and service were excellent and even with an increased number of passengers, the ship was never crowded. We even managed to travel in one her original superior balcony cabins that, back in the 1990's we could never afford! Show Picture Full Size

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size
A-grade Balcony Cabin
with bath and walk-in closet
The beautifully restyled
La Fontaine Dining Room
& the enlarged Lido Cafe
Proper Deck Chairs!
Just like the "good old days"

Our 2 week cruise aboard Prinsendam was a resounding success and the experience proved that she is well-suited to her acquired role as the "Elegant Explorer". She is an ideal size for traditional cruising; big enough to have most of the facilities traditional cruisers seek but not too big to be intimidating. While operated by a mass-market cruise line, she doesn't feel like a mass-market ship; she's large enough for you to be able to be a little anonymous, when you want while small enough for you to still feel special.

Prinsendam's only shortcoming, is that Holland America Line's pricing structure for her makes a cruise on her quite expensive, when you can probably visit the same ports and enjoy better facilities on her larger and more modern sister-ships. Nevertheless, I hope she has many more years in her present role and I would gladly take the opportunity of another cruise on her.

The full collection of photos of Prinsendam & Royal Viking Sun can be viewed on my account here at Captain Martini >>

Total Mileage on Prinsendam
& Royal Viking Sun: 13,402 n miles

Return to top of page << RV Sun 1992 << RV Sun 1996 Prinsendam 2016 >> << Back Ship Gallery Index