I am writing this letter regarding our recent Inaugural and Maiden Voyages on the Eurodam. We were looking forward to these cruises with great anticipation. Where do I start; from the beginning I guess.
We were fortunate enough to have filled out the required cruise documents on line prior to our leaving the US. This helped us dramatically in avoiding the madhouse at the Cruise Terminal in Rotterdam. Here was this magnificent looking ship at the pier and an incredible number of people at this location who knew next to nothing. Someone told me that they were temporary employees hired for the departure of the Eurodam. I found it that hard to believe considering the hoopla that HAL had made regarding these cruises.
After boarding the ship in less time than it took most other people due to our pre- planning, we left our carry on baggage in what was described as a safe place, but had absolutely no security in this location. We made our way to the Lido Deck for lunch and found a confused crew with long lines even though a large number of passengers had not made their way to the ship at this time. The Lido Restaurant is nice looking but frankly not truly efficient. Rather than an open buffet which we have experienced on previous cruise ships, we found that the smiling staff was behind a rather cumbersome food counter. The food was not hot when served and certainly not by the time you found a table. Although the food was neatly displayed and when you finally were able to go to a table, along the post or starboard side of the ship in the main area there were only two entrances to find a table.
After lunch, we wandered a bit and then found our way to our cabin to be greeted by our Cabin Steward who was gracious and very helpful. We were surprised by the size of the cabin - smaller for a balcony than we anticipated. Nothing really special for a ship of this supposed caliber. Upon opening the storage cabinets over the sofa, I was promptly hit in the head by the self closing door. Rather than staying up as was intended, it came down smack on the back of my head. I found out by looking at the hinges that they had not properly tightened them. I notified my steward and the front desk, but it took three or four days for someone to come up and actually try to fix them and had no idea what he was looking at until Ginger explained to him what had to be done to remedy the situation. Resolved at last, after a few days of fighting with these cabinets.
Well by now, it probably sounds like I'm nit picking, but honestly I was expecting a higher level of quality than what I saw or we received. We even remarked to each other that it looked like they rushed the ship out of the yard in order to meet cruise deadlines. There were many areas of the ship that looked scratched, nicked, dented or chipped and certainly not "Brand New". This ship was missing that "NEW SHIP SMELL & FEEL".
On the whole, the food in the Main Dining Room was much better than the Lido but it too had many problems. Another case of 50% Experienced Crew and 50% New Crew with no idea of what to do. Prime example being an ordered dessert of Ice Cream which was brought to the table after the Waiter had served other guest their desserts first, the women at our table their desert and then my melted ice cream which I promptly sent back and tried to explain why. All I got was a smile and "Yes sir, but I have to serve the women first". He just didn't get it and that was the last time I ordered ice cream for dessert. I know, bitch, bitch, but frankly I expected better supervision and training than these waiters and dining room staff had received. I remember talking with a friend on the ship about how HAL had sent such a prestigious new ship to sea without a totally experienced crew.
The ports we called on were great, the tour prices not totally outrageous, and some of the tour guides in each city better than others which is to be expected. I guess we lucked out because the majority of our tours were great.
Without going into to much more nit picking I would rate the total experience of Northern Europe a definite 9 plus, the ship itself as far as a ship is concerned an 8 but I would have to rate the service on this particular cruise, from HAL, which has run more than 1 inaugural cruise or a maiden voyage a 7, and for the first Signature Class Ship-disappointing.
We had considered another Cruise on Holland America this year but unless someone can convince us that Holland America offers better service than we experienced on this cruise, it will not be on a HAL ship.
AS I said, I could go on and on, but anything more than 2 pages gets boring and tiring.