This was our 17th cruise overall and 4th cruise with Holland America. We are a married couple in our early 50s and travelled with two other couples of the same general age. We enjoyed the cruise very much and are pleased with Holland America, but there are a few areas less than stellar.
Off to a poor start with Eurodam docked at a pier on the southernmost point of Port Everglades. How this ship ended up in such an out-of-the-way pier is an argument left to HAL and the port authority, but buses, cars, taxis, shuttles and work trucks all share a two lane road to the ship. Since passengers in any conveyance unload to the left at the open area around the parking lot .... and the ship is on the right .... means the police are constantly stopping the automotive traffic to let herds of passengers go by; or vice versa. Bedlam. The terminal itself is either a work-in-progress or a dump depending on one's attitude. There are,however, signs announcing a new terminal in the works so maybe the current set up is temporary. (Hopefully)
The rest of embarkation was uneventful, if tedious. HAL does not send cruise documents anymore (you print them yourself) so we missed the "welcome back" comments of previous cruises when crew would spot the Mariner Society tags.
We arrived at the port at 11:45 and were aboard by 12:45. We were literally walking down the corridor to our room as our luggage arrived.
The cabin was a VA balcony and no surprises there. Clean and functional and everything worked well. Our cabin attendants introduced themselves and were of the usual, highly efficient HAL standard. We had no issues with the cabin all week.
We are not picky eaters and enjoy most meals on every ship we sail. Eurodam was no exception. We ate in every venue on the ship at one point or another and never had a bad meal. We opted for anytime dining for the main DR and I will probably opt for traditional seating next time with HAL. We never had to wait very long ... less than 10 minutes ... but on Norwegian Star last autumn we never had to wait a single second. A fluke perhaps.
Food presentation in the dining rooms was excellent and the food was always served hot or almost hot. Service was good and the meats cooked to desired doneness. No issues in the MDR or at the $$ Pinnacle 'though we had a hard time understanding the Japanese server at the Asian Fusion styled $$ Tamarind. The six of us were staring at each other trying to figure out what she was saying without offending her. The food was great and we now have a fond memory of the event.
Buffet meals were universally good and finding a table seemed to be easier than on other ships. The only criticism we had was that breakfast options were slow. I assume this was because there weren't enough staff to cook eggs, waffles etc to order. Self serve was great... waiting for Eggs Benedict took ages
Similar to our opinions about food, we are easy to please and do not expect Broadway caliber shows at sea. That said, we found the shows charming and inventive . Sight lines in the main theater are a compromise to structural stability and I find this architectural laziness annoying. On Eurodam the view limitations are neither better nor worse than other ships. On this ship, however, the locations of the other, smaller venues are poorly thought out so under visited by passengers. Ocean bar, atrium bar were consistently "dead" and my favorite club on previous HAL trips ... The Explorer's Lounge ... had literally not one single soul in attendance one evening after dinner. The three or four piece combo found there on previous HAL's was missing all week but they may have been the back up band to the young singer in Ocean bar... indeed they were the only combo seen all week.
The Eurodam itself:
The ship is beautiful but this has come to be the norm in cruising. Artwork was tasteful, decor understated, cleanliness obsessive and the ship itself seemed brand new even though she's four years old. The seas were quite busy all week so the ride wasn't as smooth as some would like but I actually enjoy a ship at sea feeling like a ship at sea. There were some propeller vibrations at the back of the ship that some folks commented about, but again, they didn't bother me. I am not a fan of this class of ship... we've been on her Carnival and Costa sisters... but the disjointed deck plan is now the norm in cruising. Like my wife says: Get over it.
I believe emphatically that the single greatest asset of Holland America is the Filipino and Indonesian crew. My wife and I cruise a lot, and while crews on all ships are generally very good, I think the "international" approach of other lines' staffing is inferior to the HAL system. These folks just seem happier to see you.
No need to comment about St Thomas or San Juan as we've been there before and many, many folks comment about them. Big disappointment in Grand Turk. Carnival owns the entire part of the island by the new piers (it's actually gated and guarded) so everything for a quarter mile is 100% Carnival Corporation. From booze to beads, the line gets the profit. A bit sad, actually.
We enjoyed the cruise and the ship and would sail on her again in a heartbeat. Enjoy