We were looking for a family vacation for the kids spring break where neither my wife nor I had to cook, clean or basically do anything other than have a good time with our kids. We chose the Eurodam because the itinerary fit our schedule and had heard from friends that Holland America has a good product. The net of it is that the vacation, ship and service in general far exceeded our expectations.
General: Ship is a good size and very well laid out. Not too big and never felt crowded. Very safety conscious. Holland America takes the safety drill very seriously, which is a good thing. They insist that every passenger attend the drill and announces the names of the passengers that are not present to make sure that they know they have to show up. The entire thing took 30 minutes. We felt very comfortable that we would know where to go, and the crew was properly trained, in the event of an emergency.
Room/Suite: We booked suite 8162 which is the suite in the aft of the ship on the port side. It has a king size bed, sitting area and a wrap around balcony. My wife was initially worried that she might get sea sick because of the rocking of the boat - I was a little worried about the "vibrations" I had read about in some of the postings on cruise critic. The room was fantastic. It was great to wake up in the morning, open the curtains and have an unobstructed panoramic view out of the back of the ship. It was also nice to be able to walk around the balcony and get an unobstructed view to the aft and port side of the ship. One note about the balcony - since we were on the port side of the ship and the most of the voyage was southeast and, most importantly, the wind blows from east to west, the balcony was unusable during the eastbound part of the trip. Going northwest bound on the latter part of the trip, there was very little wind on our part of the ship since the wind was basically blowing onto the stern/starboard part of the ship. The bed was very comfortable, there was a lot of closet space and one gets three choices of pillows (firm, medium and soft) - ie there are 6 pillows on the bed. I think the complaints I have read about the vibrations are completely overblown. We could feel a slight vibration in the floor while in port and there was as sort of slight shuddering sensation as the ship moved through the swells. Note that this is a ship and you will feel the swells if the seas are 6+ feet. Neither the vibration nor the movement were noticeable after the first afternoon. I am quite surprised as to the number of people that have complained about this. As a side note, our kids were in a large inside cabin. There was a lot of room in that category of cabin (compared to the inside rooms on Celebrity) for them and their beds were comfortable as well.
I would highly recommend a suite. We never really used the Neptune lounge itself but used the concierge services almost every day (via phone). The concierges were very friendly and efficient and took care of every one of our requests right away. One also gets to have breakfast in the Pinnacle grill, which is fantastic.
Food: We dined at the main dining room twice. For some reason they felt compelled to get us in and out as fast as possible. Generally our food order was taken either right before or right after our drink order and we got our cocktails as the appetizer was being served. Not sure what the rush was. Having said that, the food in the main dining room was very good. We ate most of our meals at the Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind. Service was at a nice pace - no rush - and the food was excellent. We also did the Le Cirque dinner. I would highly recommend this meal as the food was outstanding. One thing to note about the Pinnacle Grill - it has its own kitchen. So, when you have breakfast or lunch at the restaurant, the food is cooked to order by the Pinnacle chef. As a result, it is exactly as you want/request it and is not the fast food kind of meal you get at the buffet. I would also highly recommend lunch at the Pinnacle. Excellent meal. Worth the $10.
Pool: We spent the $199 and got one of the pool side cabanas for the entire cruise. Would highly recommend spending the small amount of money to get a cabana. Its interesting that some people have commented that they hate having people walk by and stare at them lying on the bed. We turned the bed around to face the window/ocean and had no issues with people walking by. Also, the view is great when the bed is facing out towards the ocean. The service by the attendants was outstanding. Always checking (unobtrusively) if there is anything that you need. Nice to have then bring you lunch instead of standing in line with everyone else. Champagne and strawberries at 3:00 is a nice touch (no issues with refills on the Champagne). I can't imagine doing a cruise without being able to get a cabana. For those people that are complaining that they take up too much room - splurge and spend the $199. The one downside we saw to the retreat cabanas is that when it rained, everyone left their cabana (either leave or get soaked). We didn't leave our cabana since they shut the room on the pool and it was out of the rain and wind. The good part about the retreat cabanas is that they are more quite than the poolside cabanas (no kids screaming having a good time) and do have a nice breeze. If you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend the poolside cabana.
Staff: We have nothing but good things to say about the staff and crew. When I read some of the reviews where people complain about poor service I wonder if I was on a different ship. The room stewards were amazing. Very quick to clean the room. If we went into the room, they would go right back in after we left to make sure everything was put back in order. These guys work really hard and deserve a lot of credit for making Holland America a high quality product. I found it amazing that the stewards had remembered our name by the time the ship set sail. Restaurant staff was great - better than most restaurants I have been to. The Pinnacle grill staff and cabana stewards deserve special mention along with the cabin stewards - they were amazing. We found that the staff spoke excellent English (including the Dutch staff ;) ) and never had any issues with communicating.
Ports of call: No complaints - they are what they are. Grand Turk is a beach next to the boat. Very nice beach - don't expect more. Puerto Rico is as good as you make it. Keep in mind its essentially a third world country - don't expect too much and you will be very happy. We went on an ATV ride and it was great. St Thomas. Tourist island with nice beaches. We went scuba diving off Coki beach and had a great time. Half Moon Cay was the nicest beach I have ever been to - the sand was like powdered sugar. Had a great time just hanging out with the kids playing in the ocean.
Other: We had a medical emergency on the boat that required the ship to turn around and sail 200 miles back to Grand Turk to offload the sick passenger (who went straight to the ICU for a couple of days). The entire situation was handled very well by the captain/crew/ship. We were told what was going on, what the consequences in the change of plans was going to be and everything was handled as advertised. Having seen how a life threatening situation was handled by the company, I feel like I would be in good hands if I ever got sick on the ship and needed emergency treatment. Also there was a "code red" flu breakout on the ship the last two days. We were told what was going on, what was going to happen and why. Every inch of the inside and outside of the ship was disinfected within 24 hours - the crew really worked hard to make sure that the virus wouldn't spread. I would give them an A+ for handling the situation.
Announcements: I have read complaints about announcements on the ship. I found them to be short and to the point, and very informative. They are also pretty infrequent. Captain gets on and gives a short synopsis of location of the ship, speed, sea state, wind speed and when the ship will be arriving at its next destination. Then the cruise director gives a short summary of activities for the day. The captain did provide some interesting perspective on the ship and the area around which the ship was traveling. Generally short and very interesting.
Gym: We did the spinning classes every day they were available. The instructors did a great job. Were able to give everyone in the class, regardless of fitness level, a very good workout. The gym was well equipped and a good size.
Excursions: We either didn't do any (ie just went to the beach at Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay) or organized our own (San Juan and St. Thomas).
Shows: Only went to the magic show. Both shows were very entertaining. We sat in the first row of the theater and couldn't figure out how he was doing his tricks. Very well done and very entertaining. Didn't go to any of the other shows.
Summary: The key question in any quality survey is; "would you recommend this product to a friend". The answer to this from our perspective is a definite yes. Great product for a reasonable price. Excellent service. We would take the same cruise again on the same ship to the same destinations in a heartbeat.