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!
This was our 6th cruise on the 4th different cruise line (RCL, NCL and Carnival). I must admit, I was a little hesitant about booking a HAL cruise for my family of 6 (2 grandparents, 2 parents and 2 girls ages 14 and 10). I had read stories in the past about HAL catering to “older” seniors and not being a good line for families with kids. But, because my ultimate goal is to try all the major cruise lines at least once before I choose a favourite, I booked the Eurodam. What a pleasant surprise! The picture I had of everyone being in their 80s was all wrong. It was March break and there were people of all ages (including over 200 kids).
As everyone says, the embarkation was a breeze.
Food - The food was the best I've had on any line – hands down. Each line has areas where they excel and Holland America's is the quality of the food. The Lido Buffet had a wide variety of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it was all excellent. The freshly squeezed orange juice, waffles, eggs benedict station, fruit,etc. were delicious! Lunch was equally as good. We also tried the pizza and the 5 different burgers from the Terrance Grill - all excellent. Best turkey burger I've ever had!
The Tamarind was everything you've read about and more! I had the filet mignon and it was perfect. My daughter tried duck for the first time and liked it too! The chocolate dessert was one of the best, if not the best, dessert I've ever had!
The Pinnacle Grill was excellent too. My mother and father-in-law are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year and they surprised us with a special chocolate mousse cake – very nice. Again, the beef was excellent!
The Canaletto was equally as good. The reviews I read said it was average but the antipasto, lasagna and veal parmesan were as good as any top rated Italian restaurant I've ever been to. I guess HAL's average is better than most!
The dessert extravaganza was unbelievable. It was set up around the pool and there was a huge turnout but we had just eaten at the Pinnacle and were too stuffed to try anything. Have a light dinner on that night!
I also went against the grain and finally ordered room service for breakfast which was also very good. I don't know why people write complaints about the delivery being 15 minutes late or they get extra food with their order??? I loved sitting on the balcony in my pajamas watching the waves go by (or whales which we saw a few times!).
Ship – The ship is beautiful – very tastefully decorated instead of being overly lavish or bordering on tacky. We had a balcony room on the 5th deck which was great. Lots of storage space for 4 people. When the 2 extra beds were pulled out it was a little tight but that's to be expected. The beds and linens were the nicest we've had on any cruise. Our cabin steward was great – I hardly saw him but the room was always done perfectly. We never made it to many bars but dropped by the Explorer's Café on the last night and wished we had found it sooner!
The only thing I think the ship could use is a bigger pool or a 3rd pool. Both pools got pretty crowded on the sea days. We found it easy to get chairs despite the private cabanas taking up space but a bit more pool room would have been nice!
Entertainment – the shows were as good as any other cruise line and the Magician was the best I've ever seen (and it's not because he was a fellow Canadian either!). The kids loved him too!
Ports – Turks and Caicos was devastated by a hurricane 2 years ago but it doesn't mean that there's nothing to do on the island. The guys rented a golf cart and went geocaching and the girls walked the beach and sat by the pool at Margaritaville which was very relaxing.
San Juan is always fun. We took a taxi to the Coronado hotel/beach area which was beautiful. Next cruise may be a southern one leaving from San Juan!
St. Thomas was as picturesque as usual. Rented a car and went to Megan's Bay for the morning. The guys went geocaching around the island while the girls shopped in the afternoon and bought some jewelry of course! You never know when you're going to be back there again!
Half Moon Cay is the nicest private island I've ever seen. Beautiful beaches with sand like white flour and lots to see and do. If I ever go there again I'm definitely going horseback riding in the water! The BBQ they served was good and it was fun to spend a day on the beach for a change!
Summary – Overall, I would recommend HAL and the Eurodam to anyone and everyone. I will definitely try it again – and I can't say that about all of them!
BRIEF DISCLOSURE This was my first cruise. Before cruising, I read the other reviews of the Eurodam and they scared me silly. After the cruise, I felt like I had just finished sailing on a ship utterly different from those who gave Eurodam such bad reviews! How does one account for this? I'm not demanding enough? They are way too demanding? Who knows?
While I will note features I found disappointing, they are not the cruise-spoiling sorts of things; not by a Texas mile.
EMBARKATION My wife and I arrived in Fort Lauderdale the afternoon before the sailing, to ensure we had all the wiggle room we might need in transportation, and to allow for an unhurried approach to the cruise. It worked, and I recommend this to anyone if they're able to schedule it. Seek for hotels that offer shuttle service from the airport and to the cruise port.
Upon arriving at the Eurodam's pier, I was amazed at the efficiency, ease, and speed with which we delivered our bags to friendly, smiling porters; and, then, proceeded into the building, guided by friendly red-coated guides stationed along the way, as well asby a large blue line on the pavement. We stood in one line for less than five minutes. We sat on airport-waiting room seats for another five minutes, and then we were called to board the ship. Start to finish was about 20 minutes total. To us, it felt like a breeze, but we'd never been there and done that before.
Novelty is great entertainment and makes time fly.
ARRIVAL ON SHIP We were boarded directly onto the Lido Deck which contains the long buffet-style casual-dress restaurant. Yes, it was packed. Why not? It wasn't designed to accomodate the entire passenger list! But, everyone first appeared on the ship in this restaurant until the rooms were ready for occupancy. We did get food (plenty of it), and a seat for two with no difficulty. It would have been off-putting if this were the atmosphere of the place throughout the cruise; but, it was crowded only during this embarkation period. Once the rooms were ready, the crowd diminished immediately.
CABIN We had booked what Eurodam calls a Deluxe Verandah Ocean-View Stateroom (No. 5043, for those who want to see where it is on the deck plan). For what we desired and needed, it was entirely satisfactory. It was clean, the bed was fantastic, the pillows and linens were clean and exceedingly comfortable. The closets and cabinets easily held all the contents of two very large suitcases, a hanging bag, and the largest carry-on the airlines allow. We unpacked everything and found storage for the bags under the bed. The room came with a bath/shower combo. Towels were abundant and soft. Two bathrobes were provided. The cabin steward removed an excess of hangers from the closets. An easy-to-use room safe provided peace of mind.
The view from the veranda never disappointed. With floor to ceiling windows you could see the sunrise over the moving sea each morning.
Possible disappointments: there are only two 110 AC electric outlets in the room, and they are located at the desk/vanity. Also, the assignment of light switches on the walls must have been determined by rolling dice. It took a day or two to figure out how to get the lights you wished on to be on.
Another disappointment: the glass wall on the verandah was stained with sea water spray, so that one could not sit on the veranda and get an unclouded view of the ocean. As we disembarked, we noted these panes being washed. Evidently that washing was overlooked before we arrived.
FOOD: GENERALLY It's everywhere and effectiely it's all the time (except, perhaps, between midnight and 7:00 AM.). In-room dining for no extra charge is always available, though the menu is less varied. Each night, a card for ordering in-cabin morning repast is available. You can select delivery times within 30 minutes (i.e. 6:00-6:30; 6:30-7:00; 7:00-7:30; etc.). Whatever we ordered invariably arrived in the middle of the period. So we always had coffee in our cabin upon arising, my wife always ate a full breakfast in the cabin, while I ventured forth to meet new people over a lavish breakfast in the Rembrandt dining room.
FOOD: REGULAR MEALS IN THE REMBRANDT We booked the cruise late, so traditional early/late seating was alrady full. Instead we had open seating, and in future I will always choose this, as it guarantees you will be eating with new people at every meal, something I enjoy. It also gives us greater flexibility in our schedule. Open seating dining in the evening is available from 5:15 until 9:30.
The Rembrandt dining room is a two-level affair, pleasing to the eye, but regrettably noisy when full. Breakfast and noon meals don't have this problem; but evening meals are difficult for conversation at your table, unless you eat late or eat there on an evening when many passengers are in port for the evening.
We heard a few passengers complain of slow service. I never had that problem. The pace was leisurely, but so was I!
The four-course meal was generous (appetizer, soup/salad, entree, dessert), and plentiful. If you wished two of something, it was yours for the asking. One man one evening finished his 10- ounce New York Strip steak and asked for a second one, which came promptly to the table. I usually added a scoop of ice cream to the dessert I selected. For each course, you had at least six choices. Plus, there was a list of "always available" items for every course, no matter what the menu for the evening.
Again, service for us was always satisfactory. We never waited longer than one would ordinarily wait in a normal restaurant. I really enjoyed being served by efficient, nimble young men (no waitresses in the Rembrandt) who did NOT want to become my best buddy and engage me in tacky banter during the meal. Drinks were always filled without asking and with minimal intrusion. Our waiters were like our cabin steward (see below): easily summoned, minimally verbal, accurate and prompt when fulfilling requests.
FOOD: THE LIDO The Lido Deck contains the Lido Buffet in most of its central area. At either end of the Lido Deck are swimming pools and sunbathing areas, along with hot tubs and dry saunas, all available to any guest. There are numerous buffets -- some serving "tastes of the world" cuisine, others more conventional American fare (meats, vegetables, starches, breads). Salads, drinks, and desserts all have their own separate buffet stations.
The whole point of the Lido Restaurant seems to be speed and convenience. Patrons seemed to be mostly those folks in the pool areas that flank each end of the very long Lido Buffet. It was common during lunch to see "pool people" in the Lido, gathering their food and returning to the outdoors areas of the pools, where one found an abundance of tables under shade.
My wife and I often ate in the Lido at lunch. I usually ate a large salad, tempering my GI tract for dinner, dontcha know! After that first very crowded experience in the Lido when we arrived at the ship, we never found the Lido to be disagreeably crowded. It IS self-service. Most of the staff on the floor are busing tables, though they will respond politely and quickly to requests for refills on drinks (or, at least, those we asked did so).
FOOD: SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS The Canaletto: This is tucked into a corner of the Lido Restaurant. We missed it, so have no comment. Others we consulted were very pleased with it. No extra charge, but reservations are needed since it is small.
The Pinnacle Grill: a softly lit, wood-and-brass decorated steak place (plenty of other options available too: fish, chicken, lamb, pork). $20 a head extra to dine here, reservations required. The seating is by reservation, so you decide. My wife and I had our anniversary dinner there the second night at sea. Service was very good and the food was excellent. Knowing it was our anniversary (I had mentioned this when making the reservation before the cruise started), we were seated in a fantastic corner booth for two, giving us a panaramic view of the restaurant. A special anniversary cake came with dessert.
The Tamarind: this is billed as an "Asian fusion" restaurant, which seems to mean varied forms of Oriental-influenced fare. $15 a head extra to dine here, and my wife and I ate there the last evening of the cruise, forgoing whatever hoo-haw had been planned in the Rembrandt for the last night (who knows? maybe we missed something special?). The Tamarind was special. Very excellent service, and extremely tasty and exotically spiced food served in generous portions. Again, the four-course format with at least six choices per course.
Our Wasabi Soy-Crusted Tenderloin Steak was fabulous. The appetizers were abundant and plentiful. The ambiance of the restaurant was peaceful. I heartily recommend it.
My single quibble -- and this applies generally to the ship -- is that my ear is not tuned to English spoken with a very strong Indonesian or Filipino accent. So, I often found myself saying "Beg pardon?" and "I didn't understand you." But, we always got through these challenges, and we decided to face them with a gaming interest rather than irritation.
The Terrace Grill: this is a hamburger joint at one of the Lido Deck pools. The one day I grabbed something from it, they were offering cheeseburger, lamb burger, veggie burger, and turkey burger, all with fries and condiments. It was fast food on the ship, and though I was expecting to be underwhelmed, I was shocked and delighted with the charcoaly taste of the burger. Yum!
The dessert buffet was just inside the Lido Restaurant, so I ducked in there for cookies and ice cream, carrying them back to my bride with no problem at all.
Sundry Food: Hors d' oeuvres are served in many of the bars in late afternoon, but I never partook of those offerings. I'd be surprised to learn they were subpar, as all the othe food I ate was excellent. There is a coffe/pastry shop on the 11th deck that contains the internet stations and library. Imagine a smallish Starbucks and you'll know what it's like.
EVENING ENTERTAINMENT Almost every evening, there was a show in the triple-deck space of the Mainstage auditorium. Lasting about an hour, these shows were quite good. I feared there might be a lot of raunch (such as one might find in a Las Vegas floor show), but these were free of that sort of funk. The singers had strong, on-key voices, the dancers were athletic and nimble; the shows (according to someone I spoke with) are designed by Barry Manilow. Given the space constraints of a ship, I was intrigued with how lively a show they produced with the sets and lights available.
The show was offered at 8:00 and 10:15 in the evening, the earlier audience far more "packed" than the latter. A highlight for us was a magician. I'm sure the shows change frequently through the year, so I won't comment further. If Holland is able to secure the same quality of performers as what we saw, no one will be disappointed.
ON BOARD ACTIVITIES These were abundant and varied. In a week, I could not possibly partake of most of them (even if I had wanted to; I don't gamble, for example). There was a cooking seminar running through the week; also one on digital photography, with laptops supplied. Lectures in the Mainstage on various ports and their attractions were common. The ship contains a library with a couple of thousand books of varied fiction and nonfiction (my wife found and read a 400 page work on the Congress of Vienna in 1814).
Internet service is pricey -- from 85 cents a minute to 45 cents a minute if you buy access in chunks. I purchased 100 minutes for $55, so I could monitor a few potential trouble spots at home. I used up about 60 of those minutes. I could also read one blog of personal interest by pulling up the page on the screen, and then hitting the print button. Actual reading took place via ink on paper.
Internet stations are plentiful. I never saw anyone waiting to use one.
Personal Complaint: I could find no place on the ship (other than my cabin) that was truly quiet. There was always noise -- people talking, overhead music -- which prevented me from reading a book I'm reviewing for a publication. I really needed a genuinely library-quiet atmosphere for this, and I was disappointed that in a ship as large as the Eurodam there is no such spot (not that I could find; and, I queried several staff about this).
EXCURSIONS Holland offers many of these. We did only one -- I parasailed at Half Moon Cay. Otherwise, on this first-cruise experience, my wife and I kept ourselves to wandering around the ports, looking to see what we would find on our own. It was fun. It was successful. We were entertained. On St. Thomas the shopping was a blast, particularly if you're looking for distilled spirits or jewelry. Much to my delight I found and purchased a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings for my bride -- lovely, dangly, sparkly things -- for a price that was unbelievable, from a long-established and highly rated jeweler (Cardow).
As I scanned the excursion list from Holland, they seemed pricey to me for what they described. Obviously, I can be wrong here. But, with so much in port to do and see without paying someone to herd your around --- well, we'll exhaust these possibilities before we feel attracted to excursions.
SERVICE Paul Motter's essay concerning service on Holland, available at this site here says it all. Read it. I confirm what he says.
Our cabin steward obviously studied us to know what we wanted, how we wanted it, when we wanted it, and he delivered it totally behind the scenes. Example: I asked for ice within two hours of arriving in the cabin. The bucket never lacked for ice for the remainder of the cruise.
Every time we returned to our room, it had been tidied up, even if we were gone for only an hour. One cruiser joked that the cabin stewards were like ninjas -- when you are in they're out, when you're out, they're in. You begin to think they hid in a secret compartment in your cabin, jumping out as you depart to tidy up you little messes. It was one of the most astounding things I've ever seen. Beds turned down every night, lights dim, chocolates, ordering card for in-cabin wake-up coffee and food as we pleased. I don't know how they do this for over 2,000 passengers at a time.
OTHERS' IMPRESSIONS This was our first cruise. Most of the folks we met had cruised six, twelve, even more cruises, on differint lines. We invariably asked them to rate the cruise lines they had used, and to compare them to Holland. In every case, they said that this cruise on the Eurodam was superior to anything they had encountered elsewhere. I wonder if I am now set up for disappointment if I ever cruise another line!