For the most part, we really enjoyed our time aboard the Eurodam. We worried that we would not care for the size of this ship, but we found it is designed in such a way that we never felt overwhelmed by the number of passengers aboard. The food and entertainment were up to usual Holland America standards and, as always, the staff and crew were wonderful. Even the people at Guest Services were less abrupt / rude than on most cruise ships. Being taken to several interesting ports in the Canadian Maritimes, as well as a great stop in Boston, was a treat, and we recommend this itinerary to anyone who has never traveled this route.
As we sailed out of Boston, however, more than just the ship "went South." As we watched a beautiful sunset and Boston fade into memory, the captain informed us that Holland America had made a stunning decision. We would not be stopping at Newport, as scheduled, because "Seattle" had decided to send us and their ship straight into the teeth of Hurricane Sandy. It was not clear, at that point, just how bad things would get for us as the days went on, but the decision not to allow passengers to disembark safely in Boston, days before the storm working its way to New England, would have served the interests of all of us passengers much better. The Captain, crew and staff did a good job of keeping us relatively safe and comfortable as we eventually rode out the storm at sea, but putting us into the situation where the ship could not land in any port for more than a day and then dumping us ashore in a port that was totally unprepared to handle us well was - while probably in the best interest of Holland America (they wanted to get their ship as close as possible to Fort Lauderdale, for their next cruise; they didn't want to have to refund any fares because they had cut the cruise short; money, money, money) - was really unacceptable from the passengers point of view.
Probably the most important thing we can tell other cruisers is this: one of us contracted pneumonia during this cruise, and we can say without reservation that the ship's medical staff was superb in taking care of this sick passenger. Had we not been at sea in a hurricane, our patient might have been disembarked to a hospital sooner than actually happened, but given the unusual circumstances on this cruise, we were cared for well ... with only 2 complaints: Both people in our party were exposed to (and came down with) Influenza A during time spent in the ship's medical suite, where insufficient sanitary procedures were practiced over and over again. As a result, the passenger who already had pneumonia ended up having to be hospitalized for 11 days, once we reached port in Florida. The second complaint was that, despite repeated assurances that HAL was not going to "just dump us, once we reached shore," that is exactly what they did. Having put the pneumonia patient in an ambulance and the spouse in a taxi, HAL's service to us 3-Star Mariners ended. Because we were left in an unscheduled port, with a hostile shore agent, and because we found that the person at HAL who was supposed to give us full support from the Home Office was actually unavailable (out on medical leave), we had to fend for ourselves. Once again, HAL's decision to send the ship straight into Hurricane Sandy turned out to be a very bad one for passengers. We report this here because we think other customers of Holland America need to know that, while medical service aboard may be mostly excellent, support for passengers who become ill during a cruise may be far less than you expect. We certainly urge all passengers to buy the top grade of cruise insurance when booking - our Platinum insurance was the best part of our experience!
We will cruise again with Holland America, and we can certainly recommend the Eurodam, but this particular cruise was difficult in so many ways. Going to sea is not always a stress-free vacation!