By way of background, we are in our early 70s and have traveled the world extensively. However, this was our first cruise. We chose a transatlantic repositioning cruise because it seemed a great value and would satisfy a desire to cross the ocean by ship, rather than by air, which we had done so many times. While having no basis of comparison, our impression of the Eurodam was very favorable. We had a veranda stateroom on deck 5, which was more spacious than we had anticipated. The ship is decorated beautifully and the public rooms are comfortable and elegant.
We chose the "As You Wish" dining option, meaning that we did not have a set time for dinner each night. Although you can "drop in" at any time, the restaurant tends to be busy, so it was best to make a reservation for each night, which can be done 4 days in advance. The earlier dining times (prior to 8pm) seemed to be the most popular and were difficult to obtain. We tended to dine at 8 or after. The menu in the main dining room (Rembrandt) was quite varied. The quality of the food was excellent and the portions were appropriate for a multi-course meal. The service was quite good and the staff was very friendly. We had one dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, an extra-charge restaurant that is billed as the ship's finest. While the room was beautiful and the service was excellent, we were disappointed. We had heard that the beef was the specialty, so we both ordered the New York strip sirloin. It was cooked to perfection--medium rare--but it was tasteless and a bit tough. We were also put off by a pretentious wine steward who sneered when we asked about a lower priced Malbec on the menu. Only wines priced at or over $100 were suitable in his opinion. Our experience caused us to cancel the reservation for the special Le Cirque dinner that is offered in the Pinnacle Grill for an extra charge once per cruise. We had dinner twice in the extra-charge Tamarind Restaurant, which was delicious and delightful. The Tamarind is also open for lunch at no extra charge. We managed to obtain a reservation for lunch one time. However, it was fully booked for all other days. On the one day that we had lunch there, we noticed that the restaurant was not nearly full. For some reason, they keep the number of lunch reservations well below their seating capacity. The pan-Asian cuisine was prepared and presented beautifully. We did not try the extra-charge Italian restaurant, Canaletto, because we were heading for Rome and decided to wait for the real thing. While breakfast and some lunches are served in the Rembrandt Room, most people, including us, opted for the Lido Restaurant. This is a comprehensive buffet which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The selections were practically unlimited and the quality was very good. Pizza and burgers were also available near the pools. All in all, the food and service were excellent. We also thought that, Pinnacle Grill excepted, the prices for wine and cocktails were in line with good restaurant prices.
We attended the 10 pm show in the theater on most evenings. The entertainment was excellent and the music, dancing, and staging were very professional and of Las Vegas quality. We particularly enjoyed pianist Elliot Finkel and comedian Derrick Cameron. The B. B. King Blues Band in the Queen's lounge was very entertaining. We found most daytime activities rather boring. There were no really interesting lectures and many of the lectures that were offered were really come-ons aimed at selling special services during the course of the cruise. However, we enjoyed the free time for reading, napping, working out in the well-equipped gym, or whatever. The days went by quickly and enjoyably. Our stateroom was comfortable and was serviced several times a day by our attendant. This service was the quality of a 5 star hotel in the largest cities.
Other than the Pinnacle Grill, we had a couple of other disappointments, one beyond anyone's control, and the other left us with a bad feeling toward Holland America. The first disappointment was that the ship did not land as scheduled in Ponta Delgada in the Azores. This was to be the first port of call after leaving Ft. Lauderdale after 6 sea days. However, the weather was rough and the seas were high and the captain decided not to risk trying to dock. It was too bad, because most people were eager to get off the ship for a while. On the other hand, safety of the ship and passengers must be paramount and the decision of the captain was readily accepted. Landings at the other two ports, Malaga and Cartagena went off as scheduled, and were enjoyable. The main disappointment of the cruise was a "Behind the Scenes" tour of the ship including the bridge, kitchens, engine rooms, etc., followed by a cocktail. It was described briefly in the ship's daily newsletter and it stated that there would be a charge. We were informed by the front desk staff that the tour was fully booked, but were put on a wait list. The next day we received an invitation to join the tour and we took it. It was interesting and we were given a Holland America cookbook at the end and a glass of champagne. At no time were we informed of the price of the tour. Only later, after being asked to sign for the tour at the front desk were we informed that the price was $150 per person. In our opinion, this was an outrageous price, especially since we were not informed in advance. On board wine tastings and cocktail mixing classes were on the order of $35 or so. We assumed the cost would have been in the same ballpark. Sure, we should have asked the price, and maybe some people thought it was worth the money, but in our opinion and in the opinion of other passengers with whom we spoke, this was a rip-off by Holland America.
With a few exceptions, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and felt that it was a great value. We made a couple of rookie mistakes, but for the most part it met or passed our expectations.