This was our fourth cruise and second on HAL. In most ways, we can't wait to return to the Caribbean and to the Eurodam. We took the late offer (10 days before sailing) to upgrade to the Neptune (deluxe veranda) level suite, and it's worth the money for the extra room and amenities. The Eurodam, at 6 years old, shows only minor aging signs and is in very good shape. The ship holds over 2000 guests, and I was told that the ship was full, but you wouldn't know it. The public rooms, the hallways and the elevators were all in scale to the crowd.
The service was excellent. Each service person I encountered, from housekeeping to dining to cleaning staff, was kind and courteous. Most remembered me by name, an indication of training and skill. The cruise director, JT, was entertaining without being over the top. Embarkation and disembarkation at Port Everglades was smooth. We've learned to arrive and depart behind the crowd. That is, about two hours after starting time, the big lines and waiting times are gone. We just walked on and off the ship with ease.
Dining was very good. We dined most nights in the main dining hall. We had a very good table for two in the early seating, and the food was mostly hits with a few misses. In that environment, I try to take the attitude that they are serving 500 people plus at once from a single kitchen. You can't expect the same level that you would from a high end bistro. That considered, the food and service was superb. We dined one night at Pinnacle, and it was outstanding with the exception of an overdone steak, a rookie mistake that marred an otherwise top notch experience. Also outstanding was the Canaletto Italian restaurant, a bargain at $10 upcharge. The Tamarind for lunch was equally good.
We did not take any shore excursions, preferring to make use of taxis, walking, and rental cars. Half Moon Cay was the best beach I've ever been to. Stunning. The HAL staff put on a nice bbq lunch. Ocho Rios was lush and beautiful. I took a solo trip to the Enchanted Garden, aka Turtle River Garden, a once opulent resort in disrepair, but the gardens and waterfalls were magnificent. Tourguide Jordan was knowledgeable and friendly, and the bird aviary was incredible. On Grand Cayman we rented a car and drove to the QE II botanical garden. It was a great time with chance sightings of the rare blue iguanas. The orchid garden is only in bloom in May-June. Key West was great. Conch tour was surprisingly entertaining and the Harry Truman 'Little White House' was worth the trip. Great lunch at 'Red Fish Blue Fish.
Entertainment on the boat was mixed. We are classical music fans, and the Adagio duo was great. We generally don't like the vegas-style shows, and the evening productions mostly confirmed that. The individual performers were good but the production values were brassy, poorly conceived and directed, and lacked any real emotion. Luckily, there were choices. To us, it was no big loss when we could choose a night of classical or jazz at other venues on the ship. Other offerings were equally mixed. The cooking demonstrations, for all their potential, were a flop. Not enlightening in these days of good cooking shows on tv, not entertaining either. The Microsoft Tech workshops were informative, well attended, but Frank the instructor, while clearly knowledgeable, was poor at conveying information in a useful way. Classes were unfocused and lacked clear beginning and endings.
The spa experience was also mixed. The staff can't seem to stop themselves from upselling. When I'm on a massage table, trying to relax, I don't want to be sold some overpriced gel or service. The hydro spa pool was great and a relaxing environment, but having purchased in advance, I was disappointed to find it priced 30% less before the boat left the shore. The spa service crew is apparently a contract outside of HAL, and HAL would be advised to watch how they are representing the line.
With all that said, the things that mattered most to us were very well done, and I look forward to returning next year.