We are a retired couple with, including the one under review, 42 cruises completed. The Eurodam is our fifth HAL ship.
This was a full charter cruise with the theme of music of the '50s and '60s.
Aboard as entertainers, to fulfill the legitimacy of the theme, booked through MaltShopcruises.com, were such notables as Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector and numerous groups as the Marvelettes, the Duprees, and others. It was hosted by Jerry Blavat, a friend and confidante of the late Dick Clark, of American Bandstand. I will not say much more re the theme itself as it would hardly be of interest to those not on this or a future sailing, details at their website. Worthy of note, a number of Elvis "copies" aboard, but of course, not the original, long now the late Elvis.
As Hurricane "Sandy" approached the East Coast, numerous ships had to change course and planning. The Eurodam was originally set to sail from Ft.Lauderdale but as it was coming from a journey ending in Boston, it found its course taking it not away from but directly into the storm's pathway. It was then changed to dock and embark from Port Canaveral but the storm worsened & it became unfeasible to said that far South. It was later announced that as the original boarding had been Ft.Lauderdale, HAL and its theme sponsor, TimeLife, had attempted to find hotel rooms there as most passengers had of course made plans to board at that point. Attempts were made to find hotel rooms but as there was a boat show currently at the same venue, only 500 rooms were available for the 2000 plus passengers.
Plans were then made (and much credit to HAL and Maltshopcruises/TimeLive) to bus the entire passenger group to Jacksonville, by then considered a safe port.
We arrived at the port in Ft.Lauderdale and were aboard a bus and enroute to Jacksonvlle at 1:00PM. A box lunch was made available on board and there was one rest stop halfway through. We arrived in Jacksonville before 7:00PM and were, on order of arrival, processed through what was ordinarily Carnival Cruises' terminal, after passing through security posts. We then reboarded our buses and were taken directly to the ship, all in all a most well managed emergency situation that could have been far far more difficult. Again, credit where due, as noted, and rightly so.
Aboard, we were able to eat either in the main (Rembrandt) Dining room or the Lido buffet. We chose the Rembrandt and were not disappointed. Not only were we given complimentary drinks to soothe the ruffled feathers of travel, but the first of what turned out to be many truly exceptional meals.
As seas were still rough, the Captain decided to wait until 4:00AM to set sail.
This caused us to miss our first scheduled port of Turks and Caicos but was a prudent move, as the delay had been purely in the interest of passenger safety and comfort.
Our cabin, termed a "Deluxe Veranda", was perhaps the usual size for its class, having a small sofa, as requested twin beds moved to configure a queen, writing desk, and a convenient too oft overlooked, adequate night light for reading in bed, this in the form of an adjustable gooseneck. Wife mightily applauded the magnifying mirror for makeup. Interestingly enough, at night with lights out, the mirror outline formed a most excellent nightlight in green, enough to light your way about but not to disturb sleep. Storage was superior to most, three adequate closets for hanging clothing. An ottoman also has storage space, and suitcases (at least ours) fit neatly under the bed. The nightstands contain two drawers underneath the telephone. Stewards Ari and Tri were competent and friendly. Staff are always smiling; a greeting is seldom missed.
Customer service desk well staffed and competent, willing to do the extra if possible. Digests of the New York Times and other language newspapers available daily at their desk.
As earlier noted, food in both MDR and Lido were in our opinion, so good that I even wrote a thank you to the Hotel Manager. In the Lido, staff, if possible in busy times, will help with your tray; a rolling coffee and tea refill cart makes the mealtime rounds. Any language disparity with the mostly Indonesian staff is more often hilarious than bothersome, and easily overcome. They too, go the extra mile. When a selection of breakfast pastries was offered in the MDR, wife asked for a chocolate croissant. The assigned staffer had none left on his tray, and said he would get one for her, and quickly followed through. To its credit, HAL consistently offers Fresh squeezed Orange Juice, without the added charge some lines add. Twice, when the MDR had run out, staff went upstairs to the Lido to bring us ours. We also applaud the option (MDR only) of steel cut Irish oatmeal, in addition to the regular.
By way of note, a dinner companion (we were traveling with two other couples) offered that his Prime Rib was the best he had ever eaten. (Trust me here, Roy knows prime rib!) I felt some meals to be well above the quality of higher tariff lines. We noted that HAL seems to have solved the problem of hard to move chairs, as they moved easily to the touch but never slid unexpectedly or freely moved out of place.
A bit more re entertainment, as this was a music themed, as noted earlier, charter, we must say that this too was very well handled. Two main dinner time shows featured two principal acts, group and/or solo entertainers, while at other times there was almost continuous entertainment in one of the several lounges or other venues. Well known Comedian David Brenner headlined several shows, two in the main Theatre and two in one of the featured lounges. A hospitality desk was set up, and in addition each night brought a nice gift from the sponsors, left on your bed.
Ports: We did not go ashore in San Juan, P.R., having been there several times before. At the second of three stops, including private island Half Moon Cay, we were docked at the Crown Bay Center, a shopping center at which the ship may dock directly, not having to tender into the main town center of St.Thomas/Charlotte Amalie.
The final stop, Half Moon Cay, is a favorite of ours. Beautifully planned and maintained, a BBQ lunch is served at this, the final stop before return to Ft.Lauderdale. Food is efficiently served at multiple identical stations and there is ample covered outdoor seating. Necessary tenders arrive in less than ten minutes each way.
Oh, my, it's over. Well, embarkation was well and efficiently handled. We were off the ship at the requested time and there was an adequate number of staff to direct your exit, and also adequate customs officers, not always the case at every port.
We would summarize this as one of our best voyages ever, the theme fit our interests, staff was commendable, friendly and desiring to please, and food may have been the best ever.
We are seriously considering booking this same (now yearly) theme charter for 2013.
We were pleased with the Eurodam itself, which we had read had an absolutely outstanding fitness center. We would have to agree, there were many exercise machines we had not seen before, and several we are familiar with were missing, but we believe these have been, as to benefits, incorporated into the newer machines. We applaud the addition of a digital scale to keep track of results of any excess desserts...
The ship is laid out similarly to others of the "Dam" vessels have been on. Hallways and stairways are decorated in the main with paintings of notable Dutch figures, artists and others of historical significance. The dark wood used extensively may be seen by some as stately and luxurious.