We recently returned from a 10 Day Western Mediterranean cruise on the Eurodam and it was the worst holiday I have ever had. I have previously cruised with P&O, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and had a magnificent time and loved cruising, but this has turned me off cruising forever. As soon as we arrived at the port for embarkation I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that this was not going to be an enjoyable holiday. Every passenger getting on board were elderly, complete with wheelie-walkers or motorised scooters. I am not 'agist' but I work all year in a hospital with sick, elderly people so I did not want to spend my holiday with them as well. I understand that on cruises there is always older people, but usually not 99% of the passengers. Plus a majority of these elderly passengers really were not fit to travel. The majority of them were coughing, sneezing, spitting and passing wind 24/7! As there is such a high number of elderly passengers the entertainment, decor, common areas, shops and food are all tailored towards the over 70's.
At embarkation the check-in staff were rude and our photos were taken without warning or explanation of what the photos were for. They didn't even give us a chance to smile for the photo. Our luggage arrived in our room torn and damaged, they had obviously been thrown about, the contents of one suitcase was smashed.
The lifeboat drill was absolute chaos. Trying to organise 1500 elderly passengers, most of whom are deaf and confused, was no easy task. Most passengers didn't seem to have a clue what they were doing or where they were going. Then having to stand waiting through the roll call and watch as dozens of passengers finally realised they were waiting at the wrong life boats was cringe-worthy. In the event of a real emergency this just wouldn't work, I definitely would not be standing there for 1/2hr waiting for people to turn up to their correct life boats.
I have no complaints about the room itself. The bed extremely comfortable. Bathroom was clean and in good working order. The room attendants were not as attentive as previous cruises. Often we would come back to the room at 2 or 3pm and the room still hadn't been tidied i.e. bed not made etc.
The food was awful. In past cruises we have eaten all our meals at the buffet as it provides a good selection, usually has all you can eat sushi which is good value, and we can eat when we feel like it. It also means we don't have to waste time getting dressed up for dinner and sit around making small talk with 8 strangers. This buffet was horrible. Usually only half the buffet was even open. The food was cooked badly and you could tell they were serving 'leftovers'. We complained to the food manager when he came around each mealtime, but none of the recommendations were taken on board. The food was similar to school camp or a nursing home. It was mass produced 'slop'. Definitely not 5 star cruise ship cuisine. When we did complain, the food manager suggested we pay to eat in one of the restaurants. Why should I have to pay more, I had already paid a great price for my fare which should be all inclusive of edible food?? The food they served in the dining room was the same food served in the buffet, so there was no escaping it. It was the first cruise that I had ever gone hungry. The staff in the buffet were also rude and obviously fed up with the working conditions. We sat for quite a while in the Lido deck and tables were not cleared and plates of uneaten food piled up on tables for hours. The service was shocking. I could go on all day about the terrible food, but I won't, I simply want to warn future cruise passengers not to expect too much when boarding the Eurodam.
On a positive note, the bar staff were friendly and made very good cocktails. The only redeeming part of the entire food service on board.
There were very little activities on board and the sea days dragged on. Usually we find our own entertainment or find a nice area to sit and read a book, but we couldn't even do that on this ship. Areas were roped off for 'private parties', and the common areas were unpleasant and full of oldies (who were loud and obnoxious).
The tendering process getting into the ports were very disorganised. One day there was pushing and shoving and fights breaking out (amongst the oldies - their wheelie-walkers are not for mobility, they are used as weapons!). There was an announcement over the loud speaker in the morning that there is not enough tender boats to take everyone to shore, so if you "don't need to go ashore, don't". This just caused chaos with everyone trying to get a tender ticket. It made the day in port very stressful as there was very limited time to get a tender back. Some of the other ports required "courtesy buses" from the port to the train station - at a cost of $15! We later found out we could have taken a free port-owned bus to a closer train station, but of course HAL is all about ripping passengers off, so they did not inform anyone of this option. It seemed a common theme throughout the cruise that money was tight and the cruise line was cost cutting. I felt we were ripped off everyday in some way.
As we were having such a horrible holiday I thought we deserved a treat and booked us for the special of the day - a 60min massage each in the day spa. Big mistake. My husband received a great massage, he was happy. Mine was awful. My husband went into his treatment room 10mins before I did, and I came out 10mins before he did. I spent 10mins lying on the couch waiting for my therapist, she then rubbed some scorching hot stones on me in the most untherapeutic manner, then left. She came back 10mins later and rubbed some cream into both feet, then left again. In total my 'massage' was 50mins of waiting for the therapist and 10mins of treatment. At least my husband received a good massage, he is always luckier than I am. I missed out completely.
Overall the cruise was bitterly disappointing. Mostly because of the annoying passengers on board, which is not the fault of the cruise line, but it was evident that the staff were sick of the other passengers also. It was bad food, bad entertainment and badly organised ports.
Oh, despite me being so pedantic about hygiene. ALWAYS using the hand sanitiser, using paper towel to open the toilet door handles etc. I still managed to get food poisoning. It started on Day 4. Luckily it only lasted 2 days, but I really didn't need that on holiday. It is not surprising though when I saw the lack of hygiene practices from the other passengers, and the number of crew that were sick. So many of the crew were coughing all over the cutlery or plates when serving. I have never seen so many sick people on board a cruise ship before. It was horrible and I just wanted to get off.