Fir of the line's best "Signature-class" vessels; more dining options, movie theater, beautiful decor, onboard classes.
Best For People Who Want
The best of everything Holland America has to offer; large staterooms, alternative dining, classy surroundings, sophisticated public rooms and entertainment.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Mega-ship distraction like zip-lines, rock climbing and water slides.
Holland America's newest class, Eurodam (and her newer sister Nieuw Amsterdam), is the first of the line's new "Signature-class" of vessels and the first with the best of everything all the previous ships have to offer. For example, until the year 2000, all Holland America ships had a dedicated movie theater, but it was missing on the four "Vista-class" ships. Happily, the movie theater is back - bigger than ever with plush loge seats and with the traditional old-fashioned popcorn machine. From the Explorations Cafe to the Silk Den lounge and the poolside cabanas, Eurodam is a jewel of modern cruising.
Eurodam is the first Holland America ship with all the line's "Signature of Excellence" enhancements built into the original design. This includes tableside waiter service at dinner in the Lido, a new Culinary Arts Program with a show kitchen for demonstrations and classes, expansion of spa and fitness facilities, upgraded Club HAL Kids' Centers, and new shore excursions. The Explorations Cafe powered by the New York Times is a book and DVD library, Internet center, music listening area and sidewalk cafe. Staterooms now offer the best mattresses and duvets sold in Europe, and top level suites offer flat screen TVs and DVD players. There's early boarding and a choice of four dinner seatings.
Private cabanas holding lush Balinese lounge chairs big enough for two people are available in two different areas of the ship. The "Lido Cabanas" are in the deck area of the main pool inside the magrodome. The other area is "The Retreat," high atop deck 11 forward, but facing astern. The Lido cabanas can be leased for $30 on port days and $50 on sea days. Retreat cabanas are $45 (port days) and $75 (sea days). Both come with flavored mineral waters, chilled fruit, Evian spritzes and champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries served in the late afternoon. A masseuse can be summoned for a private massage for the same fee as in the Spa.
An outstanding new feature is a computer center sponsored by MicroSoft. The technology company, also from Seattle, quadrupled bandwidth of the Internet connection and also offers a variety of onboard computer classes now free of charge. (Previously, Vista-class Holland America ship advanced computer classes carried a fee.)
Because the ship's designers have filled it with intimate public areas that feel like private clubs or lounges, it's easy to forget you're aboard an 85,000-ton middle-liner, unless, that is, you venture into the casino, larger than on other Holland America ships and now with an active Texas-Hold'em table.
If you want to read a book and enjoy the sunshine, there are a great number of comfortable spots both inside, or even better on the line's signature teak and cushioned deck loungers on its open promenade deck. Service staff is always warm and near at hand, but very discreet.
While Eurodam's superstructure is that of an enhanced Vista-class ship, similar to Oosterdam, Carnival Spirit or Cunard's Queen Victoria, her décor is a combination of tasteful modern styles with soothing yet vibrant colors such as silver and teal with avocado green and peach highlights. A huge, solid glass chandelier resembling an inverted volcanic cone is suspended from the atrium ceiling. A glass staircase with gold-plated bannisters wraps around it.
Most of the standard Holland America public rooms are also on Eurodam. The Crow's Nest, situated with a commanding view from the forward top deck of the ship, seats 165 people and has a row of chairs looking forward through angled glass windows.
The Ocean Bar features classical music nightly along with brandies and other sipping beverages. The Piano Bar is the traditional sing-along forum with a talented and comedic keyboard host playing requests, punctuated by barroom jokes, on his barstool surrounded baby grand.
Northern Lights, the Disco/Karaoke bar is tastefully hidden away so the music and atmosphere can get busy inside without interrupting the relative calm of the rest of the ship. Eurodam is a ship that comes alive at night but still feels serene and dignified during the day.
The beautifully presented, banquet-quality, continental cuisine in the Rembrandt Dining Room has improved in recent years as a result of more contemporary menu selections such as seared tuna and grilled rack of lamb. Gone are the bland entrees of a few years ago.
The regular dining room, Rembrandt, is two decks high and features tables for two to ten people. The ceiling has a changing color "wave" effect, while the tables are always fully set with water and wine glasses and a full array of cutlery. The room offers both traditional cruise dining with early and late seating and pre-assigned tables and servers, or guests can opt for anytime "As You Wish" dining where you eat when and with whom you choose.
The newest alternative dining venue, a first for Holland America, is the Tamarind Restaurant featuring Asian fusion cuisine. The cover charge is $15 per person for dinner, but it is free for lunch serving dim sum. The nighttime choices include Asian-inspired entrees such as sea bass with hoisin-lime glaze, wasabi-soy-encrusted beef (I tried this, it was tender and delectable), steamed lobster with garlic, or shrimp Szechwan with basil. Also on tap are Peking duck and Asian curry dishes.
The sushi is perfectly spiced with subtle wasabi flavoring and a slightly sweetened pickled ginger. I found it unusually tasty for normally predictable dish as sushi. Nearby is a beautiful new cocktail lounge called the "Silk Room" featuring "Saketinis," or martini-like beverages similar to martinis but based on sake.
The top alternative dining venue is the Pinnacle Grill, now on every ship in the Holland America fleet. This restaurant features Seattle-style Pacific Northwest cuisine, such as steaks, chops, and cold-water fish like salmon. The Pinnacle Grill menu on Eurodam is different from the other ships and has dishes in the "experimental" stage for possible permanent inclusion on the menus of all ships.
Canaletto is an Italian-theme venue created nightly in a section of the Lido restaurant. There is no cover charge for this restaurant, which features waiters and tables set in the dining room style to offer table-side Italian service of lasagna and other pasta dishes. Next to Canaletto is "Slice," the pizza restaurant, open nearly 24 hours a day.
The hamburger bar offers delicious Belgian-style fries served in a paper cone with catsup or mayonaise on the side.
The Lido Restaurant, which Holland America now lays claim to inventing (and I have no reason to doubt it), has a separate salad bar, several carving stations, and the infamous HAL ice cream and hot cookies, always free of charge, and available after lunch and throughout the day. They are several flavors of ice cream and toppings available.
Room service is offered 24 hours a day at no additional charge. Dining Room menu choices are available en-suite during dinner restaurant hours. The regular en-suite dining menu is limited and varies by breakfast, noon to 10:00 p.m., and after-hours dining choices.
Watch for specialty nights such as the "Chef's Dinner" for 12 people with wine-pairing - cost $89 per person.
Also the "Le Cirque" night in the Pinnacle Grill when they serve itrems from the menu of the iconic New York restaurant.
Eurodam's gracious, ever-attentive staff are some of the best at sea in the premium class due to the line's most organized system of grooming crewmembers. With schools in Indonesia and the Philipines feeding the crew for the fleet, the average crewmember has been on board for five years and really knows his/her stuff. They take pride in their jobs and seem to enjoy the passengers' company as much as their counterparts'. You never see them congregating and ignoring their duties.
For years Holland America was known for its no-tipping policy, but today gratuities of $10.00 per person (including children) are automatically added daily to the shipboard account for dining and stateroom service. Visit the front desk to adjust that amount. There is also a 15 percent service charge automatically added to bar bills.
Holland America Line is pleased to announce the launch of the B.B. King’s Blues Club aboard the ms Eurodam. Five nights each week on cruises through June 20, 2013, join world-class musicians from the B.B. King Blues Club Band as they create a dynamic energy that will move you to sing and dance along. The eight-piece band features two vocalists backed by a drummer, bassist, guitarist, sax player, trumpet player and Hammond B-3 organ player.
To create its own B.B. King’s Blues Club at sea, the ms Eurodam's Queen’s Lounge has been transformed into a vibrant blues musical experience, trimmed with portraits of the Memphis Blues legend, illuminating the prominence of Memphis Blues and its influence on everyone from B.B. King, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding to The Rolling Stones and Neil Diamond. A special stage has been crafted to resemble a Memphis club with guitars hanging in the backdrop. Exclusive specialty cocktails from the land-based clubs will be served, featuring the tasty, rum-based Lucille and Rock Me Baby concoctions mixed with different fruit liqueurs and juices.
The "Mainstage" showroom is the best yet on a Holland America ship, with state-of-the-art theatrical stage effects like video screens and laser lights. In this showroom, Holland America has replaced the bench and coffee-table seating with true theater-style seating. The sight lines in the balcony are greatly improved over previous Holland America ships by replacing the brass and glass safety railings with deep but lower buttresses where one can easily see over the top.
The production shows are contemporary revues with talented singers and dancers and extensive costume changes. One of the shows on the inaugural voyage was "The Opera Babes," two young ladies equally gifted with classic soprano voices performing traditional opera pieces and more contemporary material. Another show was a tribute to Elton John by Jonathan Kane - not just the usual production show featuring his songs, but an entertainer who looks like and sings the songs of Elton John, like attending a concert by the original. It was a good show, especially for Elton John fans, and certainly a departure from the old Holland America presentations.
Eurodam has a sing-along piano bar, a sports bar (with several flat-screen TV monitors connected to satellite feeds), a karaoake bar and of course an expansive casino.
The new Culinary Arts Center, with overhead video monitors for those seated far from the action, is set up very much like a TV Food Channel set, and must be adjudged a marvelous addition. A number of demonstration classes are offered at no charge. Hands-on classes, limited to about a dozen students, charge modestly. As these classes are very popular, be sure to sign up early.
The cabins are just as enticing as the rest of this beautiful ship, with complimentary bathrobes, Elemis bath products, flat-screen televisions, and DVD players with movies available in the extensive Explorations Cafe (library, web cafe and reading room) powered by the New York Times.
Sizes vary from smaller inside cabins to expansive suites. All feature the line's "Signature of Excellence" enhancements such as extra-plush mattresses, Egyptian cotton towels, make-up mirrors, massage showers, fresh flowers and complimentary fruit.
Passenger staterooms include two Penthouse verandah suites of 1,000 sq. ft. and 318 sq. ft. verandahs. Deluxe suites vary from 380 to 570 sq. ft. A standard verandah suite is a very generous 300 sq. ft (at least one-third larger than the average cruise ship cabin). There are some larger than average inside staterooms of 255 sq. ft. as well as the standard 175 sq. ft.
There are a number of Concierge-class staterooms whose occupants get exclusive access to the private Neptune's Lounge, which offers free coffee, pastries, DVD movies (for in-suite viewing) and concierge services such as making shore excursion and restaurant reservations for the guest.
On the top deck near the Retreat and the Greenhouse Spa are 56 luxury verandah Spa Suites. These suites are smaller than the average verandah stateroom, with smaller balconies as well, but they feature organic bathrobes, a selection of flavored mineral waters, a constantly flowing water fountain and a Bose docking station for playing music from an iPod. There is a special breakfast spa menu with fresh-squeezed juices and organic muffins. Special night-time chocolates are infused with relaxing herbs.
There's no self-service laundry on this ship, although several laundry packages are available through your room steward.
The Greenhouse Spa offers the usual assortment of massages and facials, and it has a thermal suite where guests can indulge in essential oil infused steam baths, relax in a massage thelassotheray pool and relax on heated ceramic lounge chairs until the warmth envelopes your body. Pricing for ther thermal suite is $25/day per person, or $150 per person per cruise for the first person and $100 for each additional person per cabin.
A nice alternative to a massage is a day pass to either the thelasotherapy pool with extremely strong water jets to soothe your muscles ($20/day), or you can go to the steam and aromatherapy center and relax on heated loungers and take steambaths infused with essentail oils. Day passes to this are also $20/day. Or you can buy a weekly pass to both for $250 unlimited.
The Eurodam has two outdoor swimming pools, one with a Magrodome roof that can be closed in case of inclement weather. There are also several hot tubs available at no charge. The large gym has state-of-the-art strengthening and aerobic equipment, and there's a jogging track on one of the upper decks. There's a nominal charge for some of the exercise classes.
Club HAL now includes kids and teens three to 17, whereas previously you had to be at least five for them to take any notice. Dedicated youth coordinators run full days of events for each age group. New teen areas The Loft lounge and The Oasis have sundecks with their own waterfalls, hammocks and covered snack areas.
Group babysitting is available in the Club HAL facilities from 10 p.m. to midnight at a charge of $5 per child per hour. Limited private babysitting is available through the Front Office for ages 3 to 12.
On the two weekly formal nights, half the men opt for a dark suit rather than renting a tuxedo. Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas. It isn't allowed, but also not unusual for people to change back to casual after dinner on formal nights. As long as you stick to the deck areas or casino, no one will frown at you.