This is my second cruise. My first was almost 20 years ago so I guess this is my first cruise (again). Our group of 8 consisted of the following: me (41), husband (46), 4 yr old daughter and 2.5 yr old son, sister (37), her husband (46) and their daughters (4 yrs and 7 months). 4 adults and 4 kids.
We flew to Ft Lauderdale the day before to rest and relax plus not miss our flt out and our ship. Recommend to all to fly in the day before and not stress over a missed departure. Hyatt Place was 3 star and good hotel and location with free shuttle to/from airport and port with nice free breakfast. Room was good. Price was only $75 on Hotwire so that was a good deal. Mall across the street/parking lot with a few good restaurants. Good size room and clean.
Boarded the ship in 15 mins. We were lucky. Staff saw us with kids and strollers and showed us to a special area where all the wheel chair passengers were checking in. We provided ID and took our pictures and we were boarded quickly. This was about 1:30 pm. We knew not to go at 11am when everyone else was going. Didn't see the regular line ups but heard stories of long wait. Good thing we had kids to get into the special line.
We bought the cheapest inside room. Main floor near the middle. Per my sister who have cruised 4x in the last 4 years with her daughter said the room and bathroom is bigger than Princess or Royal Caribbean. I was happy w/size of from, closet space and under bed drawers. Lots of hangers and plenty of space to put our stuff. We're neat people so everything went into a space and nothing was left around so it was good room and bathroom was good size too. Very happy with hand shower since we have kids. Great water pressure. I could fit in the shower with each child and give them a shower with plenty of space. No worries about water leaking out though the shower curtains were thin. Lots of counter space and under sink counter space. Taps leaked a little but I just put a face towel there daily.
Cabin Stewart Anom. Great guy. We saw him several times a day and he was good with our kids. Got the animal towels nightly, chocolates, turn down service etc. He works hard and long hours. We weren't very messy but he always made our beds and brought us fresh towels even though we told he he didn't need too. Daughter slept on the pull out sofa which is really geared for a small person. She's 4 yrs old so it is perfect. 6'2" brother-in-law slept there one night and it was bad for him. bunk bed was nice but too dangerous for young kids and we kept bumping our head so we told Anom to not set it up after the second night. Me, husband and 2.5 yr old son slept in the king bed and we were fine. Really like the wake up call automated service. worked like a charm since we took naps daily and needed a wake up each afternoon.
Public areas - so clean. always saw people cleaning and smiling and saying hi to us as we walked by. everyone so friendly. Kids used a lot of the public bathrooms (one potty trained, one in training) they were all cleaned and smelled cleaned. like the hand towels for drying instead of paper towels.
Lido Pool - nice size, kids swam there one day. Only thing I didn't like was it stated 4'6 deep at shallow end but didn't say how deep was the deep end and I don't know how to swim so I never went more than a foot from the shallow end. Lots of towels and deck chairs. when the roof opened it was good. otherwise it is hot and humid. hot tub was good. couldn't get my 2.5 yr son out of it.
Entertainment - saw 2 musicals and it was nice. didn't see the comedy guy. saw half the guitar show with Justin Miller. Nice too. hard to see shows with kids. didn't go to the night club or the bars, once again hard with little kids but that was OK.
Photos - camera people were there all the time and took lots of pictures but we only bought one shot of my daughter on the beach. $20. didn't get suckered into buying more.
Food - Lido buffet, usually crowded if you go at high times, otherwise calm if you know when to go. Food fairly good and lots of different stuff. I like buffet and can work the system fast. It is cafeteria style and service was usually slow and not enough workers serving but that was OK. It was good to get food for kids fast since sit down was slower. We ate ice cream 2x/day. Kids loved that. We did a few breakfasts and a few lunches. Husband, sister and brother-in-law didn't like the cafeteria style but I didn't mind.
Hamburger at the Lido Pool area. Really good hamburgers and fries. Bad hot dogs. Service slow but hamburger worth it.
Pizza - was OK. better if you got it hot and just made otherwise it was just OK. good for emergency food.
Rembrandt - went there most times for lunch and dinner. Good food. Give it 8/10. Service kind of slow. I guess not that slow if you are only adults and drinking and talking but with 4 kids under 4, service seems slowed. Often ordered 2 appetizers since they were small and sometimes 2 mains. we finished all our food and never wasted. Brought our own bottles of wine. $15 corkage. They recork and bring back the next night if you don't finish. No extra corkage for the same bottle if you don't finish. children's menu is OK, we didn't often order from there since it was the usual pizza, hamburger etc. Our kids just ate what we ate. I had steak 4x. It was good. Dessert was fairly good. both husbands celebrated their birthdays on 11/21 and they brought 2 chocolate cakes with candle and sang Happy Birthday in indonesian. Always got different table and waiters but they were all nice. Asst Dining Rm Manager (Mila) was great with our kids. One thing my sister noticed, they were slow to refill water glass, sometimes we never got it refilled. Otherwise, service was kind of slow but they were so nice and the food made up for it. We never had a problem getting a table for 8 even w/o reservations. We usually ate dinner between 6 and 7pm.
Tamarind Restaurant - no problem getting 2 lunch reservations. went once, husband got sick and threw up his lunch 6 hrs later. we're Asian so we know Dim Sum. food was just OK, not that great. we cancelled our second resv. even before husband vomited his lunch. service and room was good but food was below par.
Caneletto - no problem with 2 dinner resv. food was just ok. I was disappointed. service was sooooooooo slow. we cnx our second resev. the best part was getting the pink candy floss with dessert. kids loved that but not worth it to go back.
Lido buffet after dinner rush - nice to go back to get some dessert and sit for some quiet time, eat ice cream, drink some tea. not crowded. dinner food at least 9 or 9:30.
Didn't use the casino, saw 1/2 cooking show, didn't do the video classes or spa or any of the other stuff. actually probably didn't even see the whole ship. difficult with little kids but we were happy with what we saw.
formal night - really not that formal. some people dressed up more than others but nothing to stress over. very few tuxs. mostly from senior gentlemens. our husbands just wore dark suites and we wore our basic black cocktail short dresses which was dressy enough. I wouldn't stress out and go out and buy a new long dress for those nights.
Other passengers - mostly seniors. only 15 kids on our ship which was good.
Club Hal - it was OK. gave it 7/10. 2 staff members Christine and some guy from Manchester who wasn't all that friendly. they check age so if you try to sneak in your child under 3, they will know. you can stay if your child is under 3. only left our 2 four year old kids there an hour or so. they did many activities not in the club but other parts of the ship so if you weren't there when they left, too bad, you never knew when they came back. left sign on the door...back soon. When is soon? Give me a time. Sister said Princess has a better kid club.
Grand Turk - nice beach, just spent a few hours there with the kids swimming. About a dozen stores by the dock/beach but we didn't go see them. Free lounge chairs.
San Juan - el morro fort was nice. we paid $14 for a taxi for all 8 of us to go there directly instead of waiting for the free bus shuttle. worth to just get there. we walked back down the streets to go outlet mall shopping. Coach, Ralph Lauren, Marshals etc. Possible to walk from dock #4 to El Morro but just too hot to do it. Better to take taxi there and slowly walk back. We ate at Wendys. Kids were hungry, we needed fast chicken nuggets even though the service was so slow for a fast food joint.
St. Thomas - avoid that downtown core of crazy stores and shoppers if you can. This was our first time. Next time we go to the beach. Taxi was like huge golf carts, open air taxi where they cram in people. $4 per adult. Our kids were free since they sat on our laps.
Half Moon Cay - very nice. water so clean and clear. sand so cool on you feet. you have to book your cabana (covering with 2 beach chairs $14) on the ship. we didn't know and we wanted one since we had a baby with us and needed shade. we didn't get one so we walked further down and sat under a palm tree so that was OK. lunch at 11:30 am. don't go right then. tons of people. hamburger was good but everything was just ok. lots of seating area, tons of it. bathroom was clean but took me a long time to find it. it is the tallest building. look up to guide you.
ship kind of rocky on "at sea" days. husband seasick. son vomited on the steps of the Main stage during a show - omelette was too greasy, my fault for giving him that for breakfast from the Lido buffet. Yes, vomit all over him and the steps. daughter diarrhea (sp?) one day, must have been the Wendy's chicken nugget in San Juan. otherwise we were all good and had fun.
Tipping - we stayed with the $11/day/person even with kids. It was cheap considering all the meals we ate. We tipped Anom an extra $100 in cash, gave it to him in an envelop the night before departure.
Disembarkment - bags outside by 1am. We left the next day after Lido buffet breakfast (no greasy eggs on flight day). Our time to leave was 8:30-8:45. got off the ship in 30 seconds (seriously). no trouble. went to the hanger for our luggage, found in 5 mins and we went through security and out the door for a taxi to the airport. Departure took all of 15 mins. Sister said it was the fastest ever. With Princess it took 90 mins to get off and get luggage. HAL was speedy. Taxi to airport was $15 for the 4 of us.
Southwest curb check took long time (20 mins) and security inside was a long long long line but when we got close, they moved us to the handicap line since we had 2 strollers and we were done quick. It is nice sometimes to travel with kids. We avoided an even longer line. We must have save over 30 mins.
Otherwise good trip. would we travel with HAL again? Probably not for awhile since I want to try the other ships.
I've read all the previous reviews before travelling. My suggestion, take it all with a grain of salt. some people expect a lot. some reviews are good, some complain about everything. I used all the reviews to extract info I can use. IE read about the under bed drawers otherwise I would have never known. read about the free Tamarind dim sum lunch. Little tips make the trip easier.
Didn't go to the ship store. they have this tee shirt "Dam Ship" sister said it was $5 on the last day. didn't know or I would have bought it. If anyone is going on the Eurodam and live in Chicago or Evanston, IL, wouldn't mind paying you if you saw that same tee shirt again for $5.
If you have any questions about my comments or would like more info, don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're going on the Eurodam, have a great time. Don't stress over the little things, just go, eat and have fun.