Holland America was chosen by me for its long reputation, one that is now a disappointment. We began our seven day cruise with our luggage being loaded on the wrong ship by Holland America baggage handlers. After trying to blame it on the airline, the most the ship's Guest Services would do was loan (emphasis on "loan") me three blue work shirts and one white t-shirt to last the seven day, humid journey. I was left to wear the same pair of dirty slacks and smelly socks for the seven days.
The eating in the main dining room was excellent, but trying to eat at the other venues on the ship was a challenge. One could fill their plate with food from the cafeteria, for example, but then had to stand and wait (with multiple other passengers) for a table to clear--at which time there was a rush for the vacancy. This kind of crowding held true for other areas like the pool area and even the deck chairs--when Holland America says their ship holds 2,100 passengers, that's there goal, to fill every space to capacity. The entertainment was, overall, goodbut, again, crowded. One had to arrive a good hour early to insure a seat.
At Half Moon Cay, a beach owned by Holland America, we paid for and reserved an umbrella but found that the staff didn't show up that day. It was every man for himself to find a spot and, by the time we finally found one, it was almost time to turn around and get back on the ship. There was no place to eat or drink. Montego Bay was no better--the disembarkation was poorly managed and it was a rush of stressed, often panicky passengers fighting for shuttles and buses for tours. The tour itself, once underway, was pleasant and enjoyable. Key West was better managed and the tour, while crowded, was also enjoyable.
At the end of the cruise I was told I would be reunited with my luggage and was told to simply go into the terminal to "Shore Operations." I was told it was "right off the ship" and easy to find--wrong. Once again we were herded in a stampede, told not to stop or ask questions, and hustled onto a (paid) bus for transportation to the airport. The luggage mysteriously appeared at our home airport.
For those choosing to risk Holland America, I recommend more than the usual extra clothing and medications in your carry-on luggage (three other passengers, I might note, on the same ship, had their luggage lost as well). I also recommend a supply of Xanax.
Boarding the ship went smoothly. Our luggage arrived one hour after we boarded.
Our stateroom was small but our bathroom had a bath tub. The stateroom carpet was well worn, it needed to be replaced. We had a balcony but I couldn't us it at my leisure. The guy next to us was a smoker. Every time he went out to his balcony, I went back to my cabin. You could argue the wind blows the smoke away but not always. I paid for a balcony I should be able to use it without breathing someone's cigarette smoke. I did enjoy the balcony some of the time.
The meals served in the dining areas were excellent. I did have a problem with the long lines in the buffet style areas. The beverage line moved slowly. People were taking three glasses, filling them with ice and then filling them with soda, juice, etc. The glasses were very small so three glasses equaled one good serving. Spoons were kept at the food counter not in the rolled up napkins. So when you sat down with your cereal, you had to get up again, toget a spoon. Then, you had to wait in another line for coffee. Servers were not pouring coffee or juice. They were extremely busy clearing tables. There should have been more servers for the amount of passengers on-board.
Grand Turk was fun. We went up in a helicopter and flew around for 15 minutes. It's a beautiful island. The stage shows were geared to a younger crowd but I enjoyed half of them. The actors,dancers and singers were very talented.
I did enjoy the cruise but I won't take Holland America (Eurodam) again. It's was too crowded. I would be happier with a smaller ship with less people on-board.
On July 26, 2014 I wrote a review on how disappointing was my shore excursion. I have just received a long letter of excuse, where they explained me how they have to rely to third party providers, from which they expected to uphold the high standards. At the end , they also reimbursed the all excursion, even though I had asked for only 50% reimbursement. I was very surprise because I considered myself just one of the 2000 passenger who to that ship every two week. It is clear that was not the case, and I must admit that Holland America has shown an outstanding care for its customers, that is in line with the overall excellent service I got on board. Thence, I have to amended my previous comment.
Excellent ship, However I joined the "An evening to the Hermitage" in St. Peresburg. It was advertised as 3hr tour. We spent 92 minutes in the museum only. The museum is 15 minutes driving far from the ship, there was neither traffic nor queue at the custom. A 1,5 hours wasted is simply not acceptable. I asked for reimbursement and the answer was that the visit was supposed to be 90 minute long. However, this is not what people expect looking at the excursion description. I contacted Holland America by email and I did not get any reply. Holland America just cheated to get profit of a expensive excursion.
My wife, Susan, and I have been on 8 HAL ships, and we chose the Eurodam because of the destinations. The ship is the newest in the fleet, and holds approximately 2100 passengers. Getting on the ship was easy, as we had our paperwork in order. It only took 25 minutes. Getting off was easy as well, as we had early walk off, since we were driving to Sarasota and not taking a flight back home.
The ship is typical HAL, which is modern, great interiors, and our room was very comfortable. We had an outside veranda room, and there was alot of storage in the room.Some nice features about the room included a fridge, robes, and a flat screen and CD player. You have a list of many CD;s which you can order free of chanage. You have to go to the front desk to pick them up. Our room stewards were friendly and helpful, and we always had the room clean when we came back from breakfast. Room service was efficient, and we always got our food delivered on time. The coffee tasted great and was hot.
In terms ofeating, we ate most meals on the Lido deck. We did go to the Asian fusion dinner, which was excellent. It was a few dollars extra, but well worth it. The Italian dinner on the Lido deck was also an additional fee, but worth the expense. We did eat in the main dining room only twice, and it was fine, We enjoyed the casual life styhle on the Lido deck, and the food was very good. The breakfast choices were great, and the waffles were hot. We did not dat at the Pinacle Grill since the night we wanted to eat it was sold out completely. My r e commendation is make your reservations early for any of the 3 speciality restaurants.
There were many activities on board, and we are trivia lovers, so we played several rounds on board. We did not go to the evening singing/dancing events, but chose to watch movies in our room, which was fun.I had 2 books on my Ipad that I wanted to read, and only got to finish one, but that's what a vacation's for I think,
The destinations were quite varied. Turks is the island for those who love water sports. Other then that, there's nothing else to do there. Period. No shopping per se, and it's a flat island. When our tax driver talked about potholes, I think he was being conservative. I think a tank could have fit on some of them. Downtown is not worth visiting, in my opinion, and the beach next to where the ship docked is the best place to go to just relax.
San Juan was quite nice. Be sure to be on deck with your camera when you enter the island, as El Moro castle is on your port (left)l side, and definately worth loopking at. We had 10 hours on the island, and walked to the fort, which is an uphill walk about 2 miles from where the ship docks. Shopping is OK there, and while there are outlet stores, please compare prices back home before you reach for your credit card.
St. Thomas was busyu with 6 ships in port. I know many of you have been there, and the prices are quite good, especially liquor. Buy your quota early as they'll deliver the order back on the ship in plenty of time. Jewelry is still very competitive, and if you see something you 'must have' buy it!
Our time on the private island was cut short by an hour due to Bahamas customs snafu. Our captain was obviously very mad, and through JC our host on board, we found out that he had contacted the HAL home office in Washington to get things cleared up. There was, ironically, another HAL ship at Long Beach Kay, and finally we go clearance to depart the ship. We chose to ride the skidoos which were alot of fun.
Overall, the week was great, and if you're in the mood to travel on a fun ship with an excellent staff, this is the right choice. Having been on several other ships, we enjoyed this one as much as others. Our only request is that for prizes, we really want them them to bring back the ship's letter on a mug. We have several mugs in our collection, and we have no"E" to show!
My wife and I booked a fabulous 10-day cruise with Holland America. We invited my college room mate and wife to join us and spent the better part of 2012 planning shore excursions via E-mail and destination research travel books. This was to be our retirement extravaganza with life long friends. On the week prior to departure my wife elected to schedule cortisone shot to ease the bursitus pain in her hips for the anticipated hiking/touring of all the wonderful ports of call. The application of the cortisone shots was painful but worthwhile for the anticpated pain-free hiking. Following the shots my wife had a horrendous adverse reaction--blood pressure elevated to 225/110 and she lost cognitive powers, was rushed to emergency room and spent two days in intensive care stablizing the death threat. We contacted Holland America, 7 days before departure date and advised of emergency cancellation. The next day Holland America contacted me in intensive care at the hospital and advised they would keep the total prepayment ($2700) and could offer no vouchers for future sailings---unlike the airlines and hotel components of the trip. The Medical Team at the hospital has offeredto submit a verification letter on our behalf to Holland America for support on a compensation voucher. We recieved a formal response to our appeal letter to customer service that reiterates the no resolution position phoned to us in the emergency room. We definitely do not feel like a valued customer and are appealing the voucher request deciision at our travel agent, Better Business Bureau, Senior Travel Organization and congressman's offices. This situation is grossly unfair and black eye for Holland America's willingness to sacracfice customer fiarness treatments for corporate profits. Bill & Sandi Mitchell--San Diego, Ca
I am an avid cruiser. I've been on 9 ships. However the experience on Holland America has ruined my desire to ever cruise again. I traveled with my elderly mom to celebrate her birthday. It was a dream vacation. Or so we hoped. When we arrived on the ship we were greeted with antibacterial spray and a notice in our cabin of a a viral infection on board and hand cleaning tips. Welcome aboard! The buffets were not open for personal selection - all food was served for the first 2 days "to avoid contamination." 4 days into the trip I became severely ill. I spent the last 3 days in my cabin and my poor mom was left to fend for herself as I was too ill to participate in the festivities. I contacted Holland America upon my return (I remained ill for 2 weeks post cruise with viral pneumonia). I informed them of my illness and how disappointed I was to be trapped on a ship that had a viral infection on board. Here's Holland America's response to me: "...in this case, we note that there was nota significant outbreak or warning of Gastrointestinal Symptoms...we do attempt to educate our passengers and stress the importance of hand washing to reduce influenza or gastrointestinal illness. While we do understand the personal impact from viral maladies, we are unable to confirm that you were indeed sick on board and thus are unable to issue compensation." Firstly, that's a lie - they were aware of an outbreak. The gave us a notice the first day and they closed the buffets for personal selection. Secondly, they didn't ask me for medical records to confirm that I was indeed sick. Lastly, I didn't ask them for compensation. I asked them for an explanation of why they would sail knowing a viral infection was on the ship. I lost a rare occasion to vacation with my mom and 2 additional weeks off work because Holland America put me on a ship ship and sailed with with a viral infection. The only thing worse than the severe illness I had was their response. It was insulting. I know people want to hear about all the good food and entertainment on board. I get that. But I wish someone had warned me. I want people to know what they might be getting into and hopefully spare one person from getting as sick as I did. We all work too hard and a vacation should be just that. A vacation. Holland America - if you're reading this - shame on you and your blatant denial of the situation. In a world of online sharing of information - you need to fix the issues. People are no longer in the dark about what goes on.
This was our first cruise with HAL, and possibly our last (I’ll explain in the summary). We had a GREAT cruise, I just don't think HAL is the right line for us.
Cabin Review and Embarkation: I found our inside cabin (6065) to be wonderfully spacious. For a ship that is only 2.5 years old, I found the bathroom to be really run down (cracks in the shower base, stained sink etc). The cabin stewards were just okay. We boarded the ship just afternoon. It looks like the first group (of which we were part of) had just been given the all clear. Due to HAL’s new policy we had early access to our room. I’m not sure how great this policy is as I think the staff is rushing to get all the rooms ready; that cleaning may be sacrificed. There was a few mounds of sand on the carpet. These didn't disappear for a few days. Having just boarded, we didn’t bring the sand; it was there from the previous passenger. DH stuck the bar of soap in one of the bathroom drinking glasses. I later pulled itout. The glass was merely rinsed and put back (there were still chunks of soap stuck to it). ewwww ~ I assumed we got freshly machine-washed glasses every day. I hope we had new glasses for our sailing, and not a quick rinse after the previous passengers left. There was also a silver earring back on the counter that was there when we got there and never left. In short, the cleaning practices were not up to par, but we didn't complain. Other than that, the room stewards were friendly and courteous. Any requests, were promptly attended to.
Mariner Lunch & Brunch We really enjoyed the welcome aboard lunch. It wasn’t our best meal on the ship; but it was nice not to eat in the LIDO. This was our first cruise with HAL but we had Mariner status from having sailed with Princess and/or Carnival. We also, by accident and not by invitation, attended the Mariner Brunch. We were given a nice coaster set. Not sure that I will ever use it, but I like free stuff! There were also a few events were complimentary champagne (sparkling wine) was given out. Not the best sparkling wine I’ve heard, but I like free booze!
Dining We only used the MDR and the Lido. Our dining steward (Yunis) was AMAZING. My kids loved him and especially the origami animals he folded for them each day. He was the best dining steward we've ever had. I wasn't impressed with the lido, but I haven't been on any ship other than Carnival dream. In fact, all the dining stewards were amazing (except for one grump we found on the last day). But Yunis was superb, it only took Yunis one night to learn our dining preferences (ex. that we liked our beef cooked to medium rare, or that my daughter liked her food without sauce (or the little ketchup pots that came with fries). After we told him how much we loved fresh berries, every night when we got to our table, was a silver goblet filled with mixed berries.
Club HAL I know many of you here don't have need for club HAL - but this is seriously the best kid's club at sea, albeit we have not yet sailed on Disney. The head counsellor Cassandra was amazing and clearly loves kids and her job. Let it be known that the Royal Family of Oakville won the Family Scavenger Hunt (okay, we were the only family that participated). We sailed Carnival last year and my son hated Camp Carnival and refused to go. I don't blame him because the counsellors were terrible. Granted, he is older now and is now used to going to pre-school, but he really enjoyed Club Hal.
This is mostly due to the counsellors who are amazing. We mostly engaged with Cassandra and Amanda who were AWESOME and energetic. The kids loved them.
The club itself is small but adequate. There were 140 kids on our sailing, with 40 in the 3-7 age group. I'd say about 12 to 15 regularly attended club hal.
They have great activities like spy night and alien night, and a pj party at the end. One night they met in the Queen's lounge and made chocolate chip cookies, and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
They do a lot of arts and crafts.
They also have about 1 family activity scheduled each day, usually at 4PM. I thought this was great because most ships don't cater to the family. Our sailing had a WII tournament, Karaoke, Scavenger Hunt, and a few other activities.
Other than Club Hal, there isn't a lot do to do on this ship for kids. My kids missed the waterslide and mini-golf which they enjoyed on Dream.
Overall, they really enjoyed Club Hal, and often (on sea days) opted to go to Club HAl than go to the pool. Club Hal on HMC was just okay. My son opted to stay with us, while my daughter opted to stay with Club Hal, until she started crying when someone poured water down her back! They did have waterslides at the beach, unfortunately there was not enough moving water to propel the kids down the slide. But HMC itself was beautiful; so who could complain!
Service IMPECCABLE! On Grandeur of the Seas in the MDR, DH asked if he could get a sandwich without cheese, and he was asked to scrape it off. On Carnival Dream, when my daughter asked for apple slices for dessert, we were told it was not on the menu. On Eurodam, there was not a single service request that was denied. We were VERY IMPRESSED with this.
Smoking We didn't have a problem in the rooms (i.e. smell of smoke) ... the only place it really bothered me was in the Casino. There was not a single non-smoking table to be found. I would have left a lot more money behind in the casino, if I didn't have to leave a table every time someone sat down beside me with cigarettes in hand. So perhaps thanks to HAL smoking policy, I left the ship with some money in my pockets.
Ports of Call: Grand Turk – we used the local beach right off the dock. We also used the pool (for anyone who's been to Costa Maya - it is a similar set-up.
St. Thomas - we went to Magen's Bay. The waves were a bit rough for this time of year, and the beach was a bit crowded. We were in port with Allure (or was it Oasis?). Early in the day a wave stole my daughter's sunglasses and then the ocean stole them. She was upset and still laments about "the worst beach EVER". We visited this beach on our honeymoon and it is not as I remember; mostly due to calmer water and the lack of crowds. On our next visit, I might try and find a more secluded beach.
San Juan - we just walked around but it was scattered showers so we quickly returned to ship. The roof over the pool was closed but the water was also too cool.
HMC - was beautiful! My kids just love to search for shells (not too many were to be found!) and build sand castles. They also have these nice floating beds which the kids loved.
Return to Everglades and flying out of FLL: You might want to tell the ship you have an earlier departing flight than you actually have!
We had a SW flight departing at noon. We were Grey 1.
We were done breakfast, and ready to leave the ship by 8:45. We had to wait another 20 minutes or so before we were called to depart. The security line at the port was pretty long. Nevertheless, we fought our way to the cabs, and made it to the airport just before 10. We tried to stand in front of the skycap; only to be told that the back of the line was - over there! It was a huge line; and we decided to take our chances on the inside. Another huge line; but it moved pretty quickly. We were told that we were among the last 15 to check in; so we had to get boarding passes at the gate. All was good until we got security around 10:30 or so. THE LINE WAS HUGE. There was the basic line, and then a reserve area, and then a line that circled all the way back around the car rental area. I've never seen such a ridiculously long line. We were worried we would not get our boarding passes in time. We did know they would call us from the line if our flight was due; but still, it was too close for comfort.
Oh, and then my 3 year old got randomly selected for a detailed security inspection.
Next time, we'll try not to fly out of FLL on a Saturday; or make sure we can clear the ship in time to brace the security lines.
The Ship and The High Seas I don't know if it was the rough waters, high winds, or the captain sailing 20 nauts, but that boat was moving. Eurodam is the second smallest ship I've sailed and for the first time in 7 cruises, I was sea sick. Towards the end of the week, the Captain slowed down to 12 nauts, and it was a much smoother ride. We spent most of the week in a bonnine stupor.
Summary We are in our early 40s, and found the ship a little too tame for us but we also were not particularly social as we were travelling with our kids and were not at our best because of the sea sickness. We found a lot of passengers were not particularly tolerant of children. We were actually refused seating at one table during the cupcake tea (the people sitting there did not want us!). Other than that, I found most passengers either looked lovingly at my children and tried to engage them in conversation or were looking at them with disgust as if kids did not belong on a cruise ship. When cruising with our kids, we might seek out a more family friendly ship the next time. However, the main reason we probably won't sail with HAL again is that we found the ship too small (with respect to feeling the movement). I know HAL is not headed in the direction of larger ships, which is too bad for us, because the service levels are excellent and HAL should be very proud of their crew. Even the guys cleaning or servicing the ships were well spoken and helpful; unlike on other lines where the behind-the-scenes crew don't want to engage with passengers.
Our cruise on the Eurodam was wonderful. The food, accomodations, service,etc. could not have been better. However, disembarkation was a nightmare for us. My wife is in a wheelchair and needs assistance. I asked for an early departure because of our situation and was "reluctantly" given a departure from the ship 15 minutes earlier. Big deal.
No provisions were made for a designated area for handicapped, no attendants to help with departure. From the beginning of ship's disembarkation process to our getting to rental car just outside of Ft. Lauderdale terminal took 3 hours, part of it sitting in the rain waiting for a shuttle bus to stop because so many other ships were also disembarking at the same time.
I complained to HAL in writing. Their response was to use Express Departure (carry own bags). How they expected a 75 year old man with his own medical issues to carry two suitcases, a carryon bag and a woman in a wheelchair off the ship by himself boggles the mind. I wrote two letters back to HAL refuting their suggestion. Never heard back from them either time. For a cruise line that supposedlycaters to a more mature clientele, they have a lot to learn. Two years earlier embarking on the Norrdham in NYC there was a major problem with registering handicapped people that almost amounted to chaos because of the total confusion with registration.
I just returned from a seven night sailing on the Eurodam and it's definitely not your parents cruise line.
Embarkation was a little chaotic but because I was booked last minute, I could print out any of my shipboard documents so it was very delayed for me. They boarded us on the ship by numbers. We checked in at 1130 am and practically walked onto the ship. The staff knew there was a tropical disturbance out in the Atlantic at the time and kept us up to date by the minute. Also, a presentation was constantly running on channel 26 called "Storm Watch."
Food was amazing. Presentation, service and selection was enough to satisfy everyone on board. A true level of perfection, esp. in the main dining room. We dined at a couple of the speciality restaurants. The Pinnacle Grill was great. I went with the Steak with Lobster, French onion soup, ceaser salad and creme brulee. Reserve in advance.
Tamarind was another dining option on board. It's more so an Asian fusion type dining. I went with the Sechuan Shrimp with Thai Basil. You can tell them how hot or mildyou would like it. The appetizer sampler I had rocked too: Spiced lamb, beef and chicken with dipping sauces was to die for! Book early though. We tried to book again the third day and it was booked up for the cruise, as was the Tamarind. My only bad experience was the Lido deck dining was always super cramped. Never any elbow room and the lines were always 20 people deep, it seemed no matter what time you went it was still super crowded.
Staterooms: We were in room 5056, a Veranda stateroom. There was one queen bed in there that made two double beds, a sitting area, a decent sized balcony along with a tub in the bathroom which was really enjoyable. This was my first cruise that had a full sized tub and not just a shower area. The in room ship flicks was a great feature. They have over 1000 movies for you to choose from and they will bring it to your room.
Entertainment: Jason the Cruise Director, Matt the DJ and Joel one of the entertainers really made the sailing. Jason knew just when to make his announcements and it never was at a time that made it inconvenient or wanted to say shut up!
Disembarkation: It seemed very long but that's because we had the Green zone luggage tag. Our zone wasn't scheduled to be called until 9:40 am, in reality it was called at 10:00 am, next time I will just roll my luggage off. There was about a thirty minute wait in the customs line. Room service on the last morning is the way to go!
Over all I was very pleased with my stay. An misconception I had of Holland America is now out the window. I was always hesitant to go on Holland because of all the older folks, but that was not true at all. I just turned 30 this year and there was plenty of people my age and younger on the sailing. I'm sure the Caribbean sailings draw a younger crowd though and the attractive rates can't hurt!