This was our seventh cruise. My first cruise was a Bay of Fundy crossing to Nova Scotia in the 70's when I was a teenager. First cruise as an adult was RCI's Song of America NY to Bermuda 7/98. Second was Carnival's Sensation Western Caribbean, 2/99. Third was the Regal Empress, NY to nowhere, also Labor Day, 8/99. Fourth was the Enchanted Isle, Western Caribbean, 4/00. Fifth was the Carnival's Victory, New York to Canada. Sixth was the Norway, Eastern Caribbean, July 2002.
I loved the Norway, the Regal Empress so I am a fan of older, more traditional ships. When I drove up to the Eurodam, I was so impressed. The Victory was also in town, but the look of the Eurodam was so much classier.
Embarkation was fine. I picked my husband up on 55th Street, we drove to the pier, he dropped me off with the luggage and went to park the car. We were docked at Pier 88 and according to my husband, got one of the last spots in that parking lot (our embarkation started at 1PM, last call 5PM, the Victory was earlier, they left at 5PM, we left at PM) because Pier 92, where the Victory was docked, was overbooked and those cars were sent to Pier 88. Apparently, Carnival has refurbished one or more of the piers in New York. Airconditioned, very comfortable. Embarkation took about 20 minutes. We were not escorted to our cabin. We wheeled our luggage on, so the luggage was not an issue.
We had booked late and as a result got the last available cabin, an inside on the eighth deck. The cabin was sufficient, with a king size bed, desk, a table, several closets. The problem with the design, which I assume management figured out during the inaugural in Europe, was the door opened inward, there was not really room to hold the door open for room services, etc. So several door stops were supplied.
The pools were gorgeous. Teak decking all around. And, at least on this cruise, never a problem to get a lounger, if that is what you are into. (I don't sun myself.) Rear pool was the "adult pool", mid ship pool with the waterfall was the "family pool". Lots of kids. The average age on this cruise was far below the (what is said about HAL) traditional HAL demographic.
Food in the Lido was good to very good. Had the standard sandwich stations, omelette stations during breakfast, etc. They did have the place servings with silver ware, however, I never had my tray brought to the table, although, I did see that happen with an elderly couple. I thought the Lido food was second to only the Regal Empress, in terms of quality, taste and freshness.
I was given "open dining". I do not like the concept. I would rather have had an assigned table in late dining. We did meet a woman who was cruising alone and decided that we would dine with her the other nights. We always met at the dining room at 8:45PM. I thought the food was okay, but I must say, I thought the food on Carnival, Regal, Commodore and RCI was better. The only line that was worse (remember, I am reviewing the dining room, not the Lido here) was Norweigian.
The public rooms, hallways and stairwells were beautiful. Art work everywhere. No announcements other than the mandatory life boat drill. Hint on this,my husband had a cold on the trip and didn't do the life boat drill. The management theoretically did a roll call, didn't call my cabin.
The shops were primarily diamonds and souvenir type.
Activities were typical, although, instead of the belly flop or hairy man leg contests one experiences on Carnival or RCI, we have golf ball putting contests at the main pool.Just as annoying, just classier.
The president of HAL was on our cruise. He had just done the inaugural transatlantic and was hosting the best producing travel agents on the cruise. As a result, alot the amenities that would have been available normally, such as the cabanas and spa treatments, were not available to the average passenger. For instance, I booked a $200 spa treatment for Sunday morning. I showed up, at 8:45AM, and was told the treatment was at 8:45PM. I asked if I could use the spa amenities (spa pool, whirlpool, thermal suite) and they said not until I had the spa treatment. How could I have a 90 minute spa treatment starting at 8:45 at night when the spa closes at 10:00PM. I pointed this issue out to them when I returned to my cabin and they did not really respond. I cancelled my spa treatment. I was not going to do a spa treatment at that time when I had to wake up at 7AM to get off the ship by 8AM.
Formal night, more than 60% of the men were in tuxedos (including my husband, who rented his on land and brought it aboard), 50% women in gowns (including myself). After dinner, there was a string quartet in one of the lounges, however, they stopped playing at 11:00PM. I must say, versus other lines, there was not alot to do after 12 midnight.
Because we are late night people, I do not know if we would cruise HAL again, despite our absolute love of the ship because of the lack of nightlife.