HAL British Isles cruise

Beautiful treeless islands, cool clean air and sunny days marked our 2-week “Windmills and Waterford” cruise, around the British Isles, Aug. 23-Sept. 6, ’05, on Holland America Line’s ms Prinsendam.

The blend of cities, small towns and islands had something for everyone, including golfers. Cities included Dover, Liverpool, Dublin and Belfast, with excursions offered to London and Edinburgh. The Isle of Man, Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis, the Hebrides, Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands and the privately owned Guernsey island of Herm were most enjoyable.

We also visited Waterford, Ireland; Milford Haven, Wales; Invergordon, Scotland, and Leith, Scotland, where the “Braveheart” battlefield of Bannockburn and Stirling Castle awaited us.

Port stops were made every day except one. There were many choices of shore excursions, plus shuttles to transfer from ship to shore those who opted not to go with the group.

The crew, stewards, waiters and staff were, as usual on a Holland America cruise, excellent, amiable and helpful. We were pleased that gratuities of $10 per passenger per day and a 15% service charge were automatically added to bar and dining room wine accounts. We found it helpful.

Kathy Stansberry of TravelTime (London, KY; 800/541-7694) made all of our arrangements, including flights, cruise, hotel and concierge. On a special offer, the cruise alone, including fees and insurance, cost $4,284 per person for a cabin with balcony.

The cruise started and ended in Amsterdam, a treat in itself. Pre- and post-cruise we stayed at the Pulitzer Hotel (Prinsengracht 315-331, Amsterdam 1016 GZ, Nederland; phone [31] 20 5235235 or visit www.pulitzer.nl), at $322 per room per night. This hotel is a jewel. The concierge arranged airport and ship transfers for us as well as walking tours to the Van Gogh Museum and the floating flower gardens.

London, KY