First of all, the Eurodam is absolutely beautiful and the new color scheme and design gives her a more sophisticated and elegant look then her sister ships.
In our group, we had 15 friends and had sent several requests regarding specialty dining, bedding arrangements prior to the cruise to the ship and to Seattle head office, and all of our requests were confirmed. In fact, we were asked to meet with the Hotel Manager Mark Zeller and his team on embark day to discuss further.
We had booked primarily Suites, had reserved 1 Family and 3 regular Retreat Cabanas throughout the cruise and the Private Oasis/Grand Cabana on Half Moon Cay.
Embarkation: Most of us arrived around 11:30a at the pier and there was a huge line, since disembark was delayed due to the charter they had the previous week and the guests on the charter slept in rather then leaving the ship, which delayed our embarkation. For those of us booked in the Deluxe Verandah Suites it was an ease to get around the line and to check in and just walk straight on board, but the rest had to wait forever, since the lines moved very slow. My meeting with the HM Mark Zeller at noon was a quick rundown of what I sent to the ship and Head Office in advance and I got everything confirmed once again. Most of us made it into the Rembrandt dining room to have embark lunch, before they closed at 1pm. To get seated though was a nightmare and we were sent from table to table, since it seemed the waiters in each station just didn't want to serve a table of 8 people and were totally disinterested. Finally we had enough and refused to move anymore and lunch and service was actually delightful.
From there we went to explore the beautiful Eurodam and our Cabanas which are a fantastic idea, if it would have been thought through and the service would have been provided.
The best on this 7 day cruise through the Caribbean was our delightful and very good Suite Attendant 'Echo', our amazing and funny Dining Room Steward 'Iwan' and the food in the Main Dining Room was of very good quality, taste and presentation if you consider for how many guests it was prepared. The rest of the service we encountered on the ship was non-existent and sometimes even rude.
Retreat Cabanas: As stated before, it is a amazing 'IDEA', but the whole thing just doesn't work. You have 1-2 bartenders providing service who have no idea what to do up there in regard to serving the Guests and keeping "Non Cabana Guests" out of there. It became a hang out for many. The service was NON existent. Drink orders (if someone was there to take them) were taken then forgotten or mixed up or just half way and delivered after a wait of 45 minutes or more. Lunch took up to 1 ½ hours to receive...ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and got a hamburger...all little things but by the end of the week, the Cabana thing was a total JOKE! My whole group was actually upset with the service in the Retreat! We did not receive the IPod's that should have been available for us to use (left mine at home), never saw the promised EVIAN Spray and actually the Cabanas and area up there was never really cleaned and became quiet filthy.
Spa: I made my mother 3 blow dry appointments one on the 1st night and then on each formal night. Isabel was doing an ok job on her hair, if you believe that washing, drying her hair and using the iron to style it took just a bit more then 15 minutes! She should be in the "Guinness Book of World Records" as fastest stylist. My mother doesn't speak English, so I did stay with her for the 1st speedy blow dry to let Isabel know, what we wanted. I signed the receipt with my Suite No. and left. At the following appointment Isabel was already waiting and told me to be back in 15-20 minutes to pick up my mother. I did and asked if I had to sign and Isabel repeatedly told me she already took care of it and charged the service to my suite. When I picked up my mother I saw a plastic bag in my mom's hands and she told me that Isabel was so nice to her and gave her products to use on her face. I was shocked, since I know the scam tactics from Steiner operated ship spas. I told my mom, that it was not a gift to her and of course I know now, why I never got a receipt and was sent off so quickly. I went back to the reception and complained about it. It was a battle to get the charge off my account again, and I was told "without a receipt I couldn't return it"! It is just wrong to use the language barrier and a old lady to push a product on her and then scam it onto my account! Needless to say that the little serum, which my mom could not have used anyhow, was $200! At the 3rd hair appointment I am sure we were retaliated against as my mom walked out looking worse than she went in. At least it was Halloween night.
Staterooms/Suites: We had an SA and our friend in his SA had no problems at all, beside a non cleaned drawer and a suitcase under my bed. Two of my friend's superior suites were still extremely dirty with food items on the floor even after it was announced that the staterooms were ready. It took one other friend in an SS, 3 days to get the pre requested beds together. My mom had in her outside room thick dust on her head board and on the mirror, which was easily seen with the new head board reading lights. At the Cruise Critic Meeting Mr. Zeller asked me how everything was and I told him about my mother's cabin and he just turned. Later on that afternoon, when I brought her to her cabin her stateroom attendant was looking for me and told me to never talk to a superior person to him anymore, he was quiet rude and actually had his voice raised. Also, my mom's cabin was right above the "Ocean's Bar" and it was impossible to go to sleep in this cabin, before 1am! The cabin was so noisy from the band playing, that even the bed was vibrating.
Bar Service: I must say it was the worst I have ever experienced on any of my hundreds of cruises, where the bar staff was mostly busy talking to themselves or bars were so understaffed, that it took forever to receive a drink. The worst thing was the never cleaned ashtrays in all smoking venues and the later the night got, the more they were overflowing with ash, cigarettes and trash all over the tables and floors. Also the word "NO" was the bar staffs favorite word. For example they ran out of Red Bull every night. Come on, we were in the ocean it was on the ship somewhere because the next night they had it.
DJ Jazzy: On the 1st night I went to him and asked, if he as well could play a bit of dance music he flipped out on me and told me it is a cruise and he only plays rap music or music for the older crowd and this is the music requested by his guests and HAL. He was very rude and I walked off and was actually close going to the Hotel Manager, but I had a drink and he then actually came over and apologized to me. He said that this cruise is maybe different and he granted some requests. As the week was going on I gave him my favorite house CD, which I got from a famous DJ in Mexico especially mixed for me. I let him have the CD to play and make a copy, if he'd like it. We talked many nights and he seemed to enjoy the different crowd on that cruise, too. At the last night, I wanted to see him to get my CD back, but I was told that he retired already to bed, since a Guest DJ from a bigger group is turning the tables. I was OK because I had friends sailing the next cruise and asked them to get it for me. My friends went 3 times to see him; he had never heard of me or received a CD from a Guest. I am amazed at his dishonesty!
To the worst part of the cruise: The Pinnacle Grill & Neptune Lounge
The staff in the Neptune was friendly, but had NO clue what they were doing! You cannot call them 'Concierges' anymore as it is an insult to every well trained Concierge in this world. They are really only lounge attendants. They mixed up passport info, messed up confirmed dining reservations and put us on a wait list for Tamarind, which was according to them fully booked but we found out from friends they got in many times even without a days notice. I am still waiting for a call from them with our reservation.
We had pre reserved dinner at the Pinnacle for both formal nights and got it confirmed by Seattle and again from Mark, when I got on the ship! In the late afternoon of 1st formal night, 2 of my friends called and didn't want to attend the dinner anymore, so I called the Neptune Lounge to confirm our table and to let them know, we would be only 4 that evening! I went by 15 minutes prior to dinner to drop off 2 bottles of our favorite wine to share with our friends and they claimed we had NO reservation. We were able to get in but only after a confrontation with the person in charge. We confirmed the 2nd Formal night for my partners Birthday dinner while we were there. The food and service we received from Dominick our waiter was very pleasant the 1st night and we asked, if we could have him serving us for the big B-day dinner, the Maitre D' just said NO he couldn't handle a big table.
For the big Birthday Dinner, where my partner brought his business associates on the ship to celebrate in style was a absolute disaster! Again our reservation was cancelled and as per Maitre D we were lucky that he could still accommodate us. The service was the worst and slowest ever, the server and helper barely communicated with us. There was NO candle on the table, never a round of fresh ground pepper, appetizers mixed up, the French onion soup was baked with cheddar cheese and my partners filet uneatable and shoe string potatoes turned out as French Fries from the Lido! I am still waiting for the Volcano cake for dessert, since I had ordered but never received one; my partner never got his birthday recognized. The whole group was very upset because the food and service was not up to par, especially for a special occasion. The Maitre D was not to be found, but the Pinnacle Chef came out and argued with us over the food and said that the meat was of fantastic quality, but when I had showed him that leather like brick my partner had he just looked away and was actually sorry about cheddar cheese on the Onion Soup...he told us he should do a better job and overlook the kitchen operation. He actually was very rude and had also raised his voice against our food complaints. We were very happy when we left the Pinnacle, just not happy to pay extra $200 for a unacceptable experience and ruined Birthday evening with friends. Did I mention the Maitre D wanted to put all the mistakes the next day on to the Neptune girls...LOL...he was so useless and couldn't even admit his mistakes!
The best part of the cruise: Private Oasis/Grand Cabana
We were picked up by our Cabana Butler Mira (Tamarind Waitress) at my Suite and all 12 of us went quickly to the Tender to this most amazing private Island. The Grand Cabana is the way to go and we all wished we could have stayed here for a couple of days. We had a private chef bbq us fantastic simple food and drinks were served as we liked the open bar. Mira made sure, that every wish not even thought about was delivered with a smile and graciousness, before asking! She was the sweetest and best crewmember we met on the ship! The only downside, service for us stopped almost 1 hour before we left the island and Cabana, they pre prepped some drinks and put it on the bar counter and "Bye Bye" it was!
The ports of call were nice as usual!
Disembarkation went smooth and quick!
In the end we all had an OK time mostly because the group enjoyed each other and had fun together, would we invest to sail on another HAL ship soon, this is questionable!