My mother and I just returned from an fabulous cruise on the Eurodam to Scotland and Norway. Overall, the Eurodam was perfect on almost all accounts and since I agonized over various ships prior to booking, I was extremely pleased with my choice. My apologies for being lengthy. My deciding points for booking included the itinerary (had to include Scotland), size of ship (stability, activities, services) Cruise Critic reviews and indoor pool - since we would be in northern Europe and weather would be cool.
THE BEST PART - THE CREW AND STAFF WERE OUTSTANDING IN EVERY WAY! I was worried about mom getting around and feeling comfortable which was unfounded. Every time up or down the gangway was made easy by the staff who were always right there. At the two tendering ports they had her on and off the tender with not a moments hesitation - even the one time it was choppy there was never a problem. Every single staff member was pleasant (o.k. not the internet woman - but whatever, one curt crew out of 900 does not matter a whit!). In the Lido, they were great finding a place for mom's rollator and bringing her beverages while I went out to get food. One time I was in the Neptune lounge for a few minutes and mom was in the cabin down the hallway - she was a bit disoriented and our cabin steward came to let me know she was looking for me.
I would welcome the opportunity to travel on the Eurodam again. Though it does not have the same stunning interior beauty as the current Queen Elizabeth ship we sailed on last year, it was a wonderful way to cruise and I am ready to go back. FYI - as we stepped on the elevator for disembarkation - we shared it with the Captain as he was also disembarking until September - and was excited about welcoming a new baby to his family in the coming weeks. He was so nice and what a pleasant surprise for our final elevator ride.
THE WORST PART - Amsterdam transfer and embarkation. My mom is in her 80's and was very active until a few medical issues over the last two years. She can walk short distances with her "rollator" (length of the ship at most). We had wonderful wheelchair assistance from the airport to the HAL meet and greet. From there it was a fairly long walk to the gathering place to wait for our transfer. Additionally, once we arrived at the gathering spot - there were at least 6 -8 "travel staff" there however, only 1 of the staff could actually check us in and she was busy writing out a charge slip for a last minute transfer - made a mistake, had to re-do it and then had to write one for the other person in the same cabin. It was tedious and long wait while the other 6 "staff" stood around and talked to each other. I can be patient, but it was silly and inefficient.
When they were ready to transfer - there was no assistance to the bus and the lead staff took off at a swift pace and was around the corner and gone before we practically got going. It was frustrating and a lengthy walk. At the bus, no reserved seats for handicapped - a kind couple in the front offered us their seats. At the port there was a lot of confusion - whether to take our own luggage, or leave it, where to go , where to wait - there was no staff and no signage for Holland America in sight. Brilliance of the Seas was also in port - and they seemed a fair bit better organized. We were there by about 8:30 am and check-in began at 11:30 am. At least I knew this would be the case since I booked an overnight flight. It was a small check-in area for so many people and since we were in a deluxe verandah suite we were in the first group. Once we had our wheelchair assistance from Youdee (one of the Lido crew) and headed to the ship our vacation finally began and Holland America excelled from this point on.
CABIN - Outstanding is the only way to describe it. Huge with a dressing area and large bathroom. Really looks just like the photos on the HAL website. We were right next to the Penthouse suite and could see their deck and hot tub from our verandah. Ari and JoJo our cabin stewards were excellent! Loved the free laundry and pressing - what a great perk (but we still brought way too much stuff!) Great binoculars are supplied in the suites - perfect for this cruise. Silly fun - the towel animals really are nice - a little smile each night before bed. Clock!! I loved the clock in the cabin and that it was automatically changed each time we had a time change. A small thing that was awesome!
THE NEPTUNE LOUNGE - I am questioning how I can ever cruise again without it. Cathy and Nickolai were our fabulous concierges. Always pleasant, friendly, helpful and wonderful. If you need anything, they can help you get it - no matter how small. We never had to go to the front desk for anything. The Neptune Lounge was a wonderful, quiet place away from the crowds. We had our breakfast in the Neptune every day - it was an extended continental breakfast - the fresh fruit was outstanding and the oatmeal shots were equally as delicious. I do not drink coffee, but the fancy coffee machine was pretty cool! Great selection of teas. I heard breakfast in the Pinnacle was great, though I am not in need of anything more than the lounge offered and my mom often slept late so it was perfect. Quite different from the Lido breakfast - I went up to take pictures off the stern one morning and was amazed at all the people, how loud it was and a bit chaotic. We would also have lunch in the Neptune as there were wonderful mini egg-salad, tuna, roast beef, bites daily. It was also a wonderful place to chat with others and find out about fellow cruisers. By the evening of the suite farewell cocktail party in the Silk Den we were really regretting not doing the B2B cruise to the Baltic.
REMBRANDT DINING ROOM - The food on whole was outstanding! I had a sirloin from the "offered every night" portion of the menu on the first night and it was perfectly cooked, tender and tasty! So much so that my table partners ordered it other nights. We had a table for 6 in the second seating - 8:00 pm. Our table-mates were wonderful. Very nice, well traveled and great conversationalists. It was fun each night to chat and share stories. Mom was not able to be as outgoing and involved in all the conversations as before she became ill, however they were very nice to her. Ebenhezer and Chairul were our wait staff - always pleasant and gave good direction on meal selection. A shout out to our new dining staff friend Made Mona - he would always stop by and say hi to mom and make sure she was o.k. Loved the second seating for time wise, but frustrated that so many evening activities seem planned around the early seating and/or the on your own dining. There were many activities that started and 9:00 pm or 9:30 and we were lucky to get out of the dining room by 9:45 each night. I would probably go with on your own dining the next time because of this though I really enjoy having the same table nightly.
We did eat in Canaletto one night and found it very filling. The entrees were o.k. (I think the dining room does it better), but the antipasto is excellent and the ambiance was a nice change of pace.
PORTS - We were here early in the season - so not too crowded - though there were often 2 or more ships in each port (we were usually there first and seemed to have the better docking space).
Newcastle on Tyne - did not get off the ship - rested up instead.
S. Queensferry for Edinburgh - tender port - nice little village quite a drive to Edinburgh. Lots to do around Edinburgh - easy to do many things on your own.
Invergordon for Inverness - Loved Inverness. It's about 1 hour drive from port to Loch Ness - lots of driving around this area to see things - beautiful greenery.
Alesound Norway - dock right in town. Looks just like the pictures you see of the town. Very easy to do things in port and get around. Norwegians all seem to speak wonderful English.
Geiranger Norway - very short tender ride to port - calm waters. Amazing Fjord. Great tourist center with many sightseeing options. There is a local hop-on bus to go up the mountain. Lots of outdoorsy stuff to do here. Busy port Beautiful waterfalls - 7 sisters.
Flam - dock right in town. Nice sightseeing center. Very easy to get around.
Bergen - secure and working port - there were free shuttle buses into town provided by the city. Did not get off the ship for various reasons but could watch everything from our verandah and there were shuttle busses coming and going constantly.
Kristiansand - small city - cute port. Took the tram/train to the shopping district. Great area. Fun shops, neat buildings.
Oslo - Dock right in town - next to a medieval fort - very cool! hop-on/hop-off bus comes right to the dock. O.K. tour but with 4 other ships in town and short stay - it was hectic.
Copenhagen - beautiful city!!!
FYI - the fjord to Geiranger is the most beautiful of them all...by the time you get to Oslo - the fjords are a bit of a letdown. Also, the architecture in Norway and Denmark is just beautiful Be sure to take time to look at the carvings on the buildings.
SHORE EXCURSIONS - We only did 2 excursions with the ship - Edinburgh panorama and Copenhagen. Edinburgh was well worth it since it was a long drive from port to Edinburgh. The guide was wonderful and we had more stops then I anticipated. Since we were there on Diamond Jubilee Day - it was nice to be at Holyrood House Palace and pick up souvenirs in the shop there. Copenhagen was similarly good. We would have done more excursions, however they were quite pricey - especially since we were going to Norway. I commend Ian the Travel Director who gave wonderful overviews of the ports and was available daily for individual questions. He was very personable and a wealth of knowledge and not pushing the ship shore excursions. Since my mom has difficulty getting around and had to see some specific things that did not seem to be on the shore ex. in Inverness, he recommended taking one of the taxis in port - though a bit pricey (turned out to be 200 GBP for 5 1/2 hours - it was less than half of what a private car with the cruise line would have cost. Our driver Les was just wonderful. Also, in Flam, Ian gave us the low-down on the Flamsbana train - it is very close to the ship and $70/person direct from the train vs. almost double that to do the ship excursion (we missed out on jam and waffles, but that was o.k. with us).
THERAPY POOL/SUITE - Not sure I would do this again. I did enjoy it, but in the end, not sure it is really worth the extra $199 for two people for the duration of the cruise. Also - interestingly, on our tour of the spa, in the heated lounger section, the staff made a note to tell us that of the 5 loungers, 1 was kept cool for people with high blood pressure, etc. About halfway through the cruise, after a fellow cruiser laughed when I mentioned the "cool one" she got the staff to admit (though it took a while) that it was actually broken. One of the steam rooms was also broken. Those are things that should be fixed and they should be forthcoming about.
ACTIVITIES - they always seemed to have a nice variety of things to do, unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to participate as I would have liked. We spent a lot of time relaxing. I love the separate screening room and the culinary arts center. Others we chatted with loved the trivia and one of our Neptune Lounge friends actually won $10,000 on the slot machines!!!!
EVENING SHOWS - very enjoyable. I am a sucker for a production show and really thought the Eurodam singers and dancers were quite talented. The only downside was the cheesey costumes they had to wear and all the wigs were silly. Seats always seemed plentiful and overall, very enjoyable. The guest artists were very entertaining as well - though Cruise Director JC always said they were incredible and outstanding and amazing I did not think they were as good as what we had on the Queen Elizabeth last year. The Crew Show started out a bit slow - the show coincided with Philippine Independence Day which made it special. To be fair the crew is not given much time to plan and rehearse these things - since they all have other duties on the ship. The talent portion of the crew show turned up a diamond in the rough. There were 6 acts that had gone through qualifying on the crew decks. Each seemed better then the next (props to concierge Nickolai for a fun and energetic dance number) which seemed to build to a great display of bottle juggling, etc. by one of the bartenders. the crowd loved it and I felt bad for the next shy crew member to walk out on the stage. He apologized for not playing an instrument and then the wrong background music began - finally he started - reading the words from a tiny slip of paper - I cringed - and then this beautiful voice flowed. He sang You Raise Me Up - and I must say it was amazing. A huge standing ovation awaited him and the title of Eurodam's Got Talent winner - though he had already left to go back to work before receiving his award. It was truly a special ending to the evening.
Note for anyone leaving out of Copenhagen airport - we had requested wheelchair assistance when we booked the flights, however, the ticket agent said it was only a short distance to the gate - my mom was right in front of the ticket counter sitting on her "rollator" as the agent said this. She encouraged us to just walk there. BEWARE - it is an extremely long walk - especially since the elevator was at one end of the building and security at the other end (she failed to mention that). After security it was the shopping areas and then I could not find wheelchair assistance. Mom is a real trooper and luckily we had plenty of time to stop often and rest.