Hotel -- We arrived on the 1st and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Davie Road using the Park and Cruise package. We were able to leave our car for the week and had two seats on the shuttle to the port. We bought two more passes, since there were four in our party. The shuttle came promptly at 11 am. They tried to sell us return passes for $15 a person but we opted to wait at the port for a taxi instead. The drive to the port was not long but 595 and the entrance to Port Everglades is under construction and the traffic jams took a while to get through. We were glad we didn't try to drive down to park at the port. The hotel has a Publix and a CVS pharmacy near it and not much else.
Embarkation -- We were quickly checked in. This was one of the shortest lines I have ever gone through. We received our boarding number and our ship cards and sat down to wait. There are lots of seats in the terminal and the wait was not uncomfortable. HAL was handing out bottled water and granola bars since we were delayed boarding. The Eurodam came in under code red and was getting a deep cleaning.
We were delayed leaving and didn't actually get away until we were already at dinner (early seating) and having our entree. Not sure if the delay was due to the deep cleaning or late arriving passengers since at 4:30 there were still 6 bins of suitcases waiting to be loaded.
We had our muster drill at 4 pm and had to wait around until they found the people missing from our lifeboat station.
Room -- We had booked a guarantee inside and were given an inside on deck 7, aft. It was quite acceptable. Our travel partners had booked a balcony guarantee and had a deck 8 midship balcony room, port side. We were both happy with what we got. The rooms were clean and comfortable. The air conditioning and the toilets worked in both rooms without a glitch.
Musicians on Board - Darcy and the Halcats -- never stopped to listen
Michael Sara -- Piano entertainer -- was always crowded
John Warner -- solo guitar -- pretty good, we sat and listened a few times -- varied repertoire
Adagio - a piano and a violinist -- not very good whenever we heard them
Shows -- Day 1 -- Listen to the Music -- we did not attend this.
Day 2 -- Superbowl and the Mainstage theater was used to show the game.
Day 3 -- Nightlife -- we enjoyed this -- a musical journey through famous nightclubs
Day 4 -- late sail away so a Lido Pool Party
Day 5 -- Billy Prudhomme -- comedy and juggling -- we did not attend this
Day 6 -- Jeff Peterson and Indy the Magic Dog -- My husband and our travelling companions enjoyed this
Day 7 -- Julie Barr -- comedy -- we enjoyed Julie. She had also been serving as Cruise Host since the Cruise Director had to fly home to attend to some family business we were told.
Meet and Greet -- We held our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet at 11 am on Feb. 3 and had about 20 people come. It was great fun and we saw and talked to each other around the ship and on land for the rest of the week.
Dining -- we were four at an 8 top table. We had a lovely couple from Iowa as tablemates and two sisters, one also from Florida, also quite nice, as our other table mates. Our service seemed to be quite slow and we always seemed to be there later than other tables. Not sure if it was our servers or my brother-in-law's vegetarian requirements. We never did figure it out but we were never so late as to miss anything we wanted to go to so it was OK. The food was good but not spectacular. I didn't have to cook or clean and I had several choices each night, so I was a happy camper. HAL went out of their way to accommodate my brother-in-law's vegetarian requests.
Tamarind -- this restaurant was everything everybody on Cruise Critic had said it would be. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and took pictures of our food which we don't usually do. We also went to the Silk Den for two of the happy hours and we liked that venue as well.
Lido - We didn't get to serve ourselves until Thursday morning, which also meant no bread baskets, salt and pepper, etc. on the table. We did not find this an inconvenience and I think it helped to keep the ship healthy. I spoke to one of the officers on Thursday morning and he said they had no one in isolation.
Captain's Welcome Reception -- was done in the Mainstage Theater. The Captain introduced his officers and we toasted with Champagne then stayed to watch the show Nightlife.
Mariner's Brunch was held on our second sea day. It was nicely done and gave us the opportunity to meet other people since the tables fill on a first come first serve basis. It is a very limited menu. I do remember it was quite good but I can't honestly remember what I ate!! We were able to get red wine instead of champagne for the toast and that is a good thing since I don't like the champagne that HAL serves. We got our Eurodam tiles at this brunch.
Excursions -- we had booked two excursions through HAL. In Grand Turk, we took the Semi submersible sub excursion over the reef and in St. Thomas, we took the St. John National Park Tour. While both were OK, neither one was fantastic.
The Grand Turk excursion required a 10 minute pontoon boat ride out to the sub in waters that were choppy. The sub then bounced around. Also, it was cloudy, so the reef did not look as colourful as when the sun is shining. I do realize that neither of these things was in the tour operator's control. They took good care of us transferring from boat to boat and I have no complaints about the logistics of the excursion.
The St. John tour required a ferry boat ride of about 45 minutes each way. This is not mentioned in the tour description and had I known that, might not have booked the tour. Once on the island we were in an open safari bus and drove through the park, stopped at many overlooks, actually walked in the sand at Cinnamon beach and came back to Cruz Bay for the trip home.
In San Juan, we did a walking tour of the old town on our own. At Half Moon Cay, we stayed on board the ship.
Disembarkation: we had chosen late disembarkation because we did not have a flight to catch. We didn't arrive in Port Everglades until close to 7am. The first colour was called around 8 am. We were due to disembark between 9:15 and 9:45 but it was after 10 am before we left the ship. Not sure what the holdup was except that customs seemed to be backed up. Once we all cleared, we waited for a cab and headed back to Davie to pick up our car. Again, the construction on 595 was an issue since we had to go past our exit and turn around to get to Davie Road. The taxi fare, even with this diversion, was Â½ of what they wanted for four of us on the shuttle, so I think we made a good choice to take the taxi.
Conclusion -- Generally a great cruise. The staff is always great. They were so tired from the previous Code Red and our Code Orange but always had a smile. The Eurodam is the biggest HAL ship I have been on but she is still a manageable size. She probably has the least inspiring Atrium of any ship I have been on but her other public areas are quite nice. I am not a fan of the Lido cabanas but the cabanas in the Retreat are a nice idea. All in all, two thumbs up.