We recently (March 24-31, 2012) experienced a Caribbean cruise on Holland America's Eurodam with another couple, close friends. We went mostly to play duplicate bridge, but also to enjoy the warmer weather provided by this cruise.
The bridge, run by Val and Rick Covalciuc of Fort Myers, FL, proved to be excellent. The ports of call were not my favorites, but were known to me in advance, of course, and accepted. The ship is beautiful and spotless, the wait staff top notch.
However, in my opinion, the mid-level, operations personnel exhibited poor planning and judgment on several occasions. Lapses in the relative isolation of the ocean could have unfortunate consequences.
Our stateroom was spacious, with a beautiful veranda; however, it possessed an overwhelming musty odor from the get-go. I developed an increasing allergic reaction to the odor, eventually lapsing into a coughing, congested fit whenever I was in the cabin for any extended period. I have a mild dust allergy, but never had experienced anything quite like this. The symptoms rapidly cleared as soon as I left the room.
The cleaning staff made two valiant attempts to "sanitize" the room, particularly the bathroom. Neither cleaning helped; the odor remained. I finally concluded the odor probably emanated from the drains. When sealed off (except for the sink overflow), the odor seemed to gradually subside.
While annoying, the odor issue was not my main concern.
The worst was a series of snafus on the private island trip which endangered our traveling companions. One screw up resulted in the four of us having to walk the length of the beach twice in the equatorial sun (no water provided) in order to get the shaded clamshells for which we had prepaid. We were told they had sold more tickets than they had clamshells for and we could seek a refund back on ship. Eventually, someone did find us two, but they were close, not together and on the kiddie part of the beach. Fortunately, Holland America's demographics don't include many children so the area turned out to be relatively quiet. The beach itself can be dangerous with tree roots sticking up here and there.
I'm in fairly decent shape, so this was a non-issue for me. My wife has back problems and the hike was not kind to her. Our friends, both diabetic, she a heart transplant, had more serious problems. His blood glucose finally tanked and I had to run back to get him a Coke as quickly as possible. Fortunately, he recovered as his sugar rose, although he has no memory of that time.
The "island barbecue" was subpar. My wife asked for a hot dog for which she had to request a bun--and it was stale to boot. The rest of the food was nothing special. The meal was definitely not up to Holland America's usual quality. The picnic tables were barely cleaned of dirty dishes and the tables were never wiped off. Smokers and nonsmokers mixed freely even though they could have been segregated by pavilions. Honestly, returning to the ship and eating in the Lido would have made more sense. There is a tram provided to the picnic area, but if one isn't handy, it's another hike in the hot sun.
HAL gave no advance warning of what rigors might be in store on the island. Given the demographics of Holland America passengers, this always should have been a consideration. The island staff was less than hopeless, unlike the eager, well-trained ship wait personnel. In fairness, the cruise line hadn't directly planned the snafus (I gave but one egregious example here). But, good managerial people, while they don't plan snafus, do run scenarios and how they will deal with them when they inevitably do occur (Example: Given the demographics, ever consider training a wait staff person(s) as an EMT for the island excursion and making him/her clearly recognizable and available?).
We have been on other Holland America cruises--the Zuiderdam to Alaska, Statendam to Hawaii--and they were both excellent. So, I'm treating the Eurodam experience as an aberration for them. However, I will not again sail with Holland America.