Holland America's new ship, Eurodam, failed to impress. We (me, 49 and wife, 48) have only been on one other cruise—Norwegian Star to Alaska / Glacier Bay in August 2005—so we don't have a lot of ships to compare. Selected the 14-day Canada and New England reposition cruise primarily for the ports of call: secondly because we had heard great reviews about Holland America's ships and service. The short version: the ports were awesome—the ship was totally unremarkable.
Flew from the west coast to Quebec City on September 30; we purchased a pre-night at the Hotel Chateau-Laurier through Holland. The hotel was 5-star (or close). Had a few hours to walk around town before the disappointments began. The transfer process from the hotel to the ship was pure chaos. We were instructed to have our luggage ready for the porters at 9:30 a.m., check-out of the room by noon, and join transfer group #3 at 12:45. At 12:00 our luggage was still in the room, transfer group #1 was still packed in the lobby and tempers were flaring. We ended up babysitting our luggage to ensure it got on the bus and arrived at the pier around 2:30. Embarkation was lengthy: involving a GREAT DEAL of sitting on very small chairs in very crowded rooms. Unfortunately, our luggage made it to the pier; but was not loaded on the ship. We found out the next day that an entire bus compartment (20+ bags) had not been unloaded; we and several other couples spent the first 24 hours on the ship with only the clothes on our backs.
Our veranda cabin was large and comfortable—one of the few things which lived up to expectations. Cabin steward was gracious, unassuming and—as usual on cruise ships—overworked. One general impression of the entire Eurodam experience is that the ship is woefully understaffed. This being Holland's first venture into the large ship market; it seems they chose to staff the ship as if it were one of their smaller vessels.
The public areas were; I keep using this word, unremarkable. Atrium was unbelievably small (compared to Norwegian Star), décor was staid, shopping areas OK, dining areas were the most opulent parts of the ship and were quite comfortable.
I read in a travel magazine that this ship was recommended for 'foodies,' once again we were very unimpressed. Most dining room meals were bland, under or over cooked, and uninteresting. Service was inconsistent (staffing). The premium restaurants were quite a bit better. We chose anytime dining and absolutely loved meeting new people each evening.
Debarking in ports, tendering, and the final debarkation in Ft. Lauderdale were also chaos. Once again, Holland did not adequately prepare to process 2000 people and their luggage on and off the ship. I'll have to write another review on the ports and shore excursions—they were even better than expected.
A couple of high points: my wife did have the greatest massage of her life in the spa, we highly recommend the Indonesian Crew show; and I really enjoyed the wine tastings led by the chief wine steward, Sean.
The search for our favorite cruise line continues…