We arrived at the Ft. Lauderdale terminal at 10:45 am, and were able to check-in promptly. We had filled out the on line boarding pass and the process was very easy. We were on the ship having lunch in the main dining room by 12:15.
I will not bore you with all the day to day activities that we did, only observations that we had during our cruise to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, and Half Moon Cay.
We enjoy room service for breakfast on days that we are going to be in port. I am sure most people do the same thing. I must say that for the first time on any of HAL ships, this was not a good experience. The first morning the food did arrive promptly at 7:00 am as we had requested, however the rye toast was missing, and only one little thin slice of ham was with the eggs that I had ordered. I guess all in all that is not a disaster, but the next day we ordered room service for 7:00 to 7:30 time slot, the kitchen manager called at 7:30 to inform us that our meals would arrive at 7:45. They did arrive at 7:45, but again some of the food was missing, and of course the food was cold. We did not order room service anymore on the cruise. Instead, we went to the main dining room for breakfast, and the food and service was exceptional.
We spent a few hours in the casino, but found it much too smoky for our liking which limited our gaming experience.
We have always purchased several pictures from previous cruises to keep in our growing photo albums of our past cruises. We always purchased the pictures that the crew takes at the gangway as we walk from the ship in the new port of call. We were surprised to find that there were no photographers to be found in our stops in San Juan and Gran Turk. Not sure way they chose not to do this any longer. We did have several pictures taken at the Formal Night photo areas, but the photographers were not as good as the photographers on previous HAL cruises. Also, the prices on the pictures is incredibly expensive for average photographs.
The rooms are new of course, and the stewards would "straighten up" the room, but not rally "clean" the room. I noticed dust on the coffee table day after day, and also on the headboard. I am not saying that it was dirty, just minor things that I had not noticed on the other HAL ships (MS Zuiderdam, MS Veendam, MS Westerdam)we had sailed on. That is not to say that those ships didn't have issues, only that you wouldn't expect these things on a new ship.
The evening dining was spectacular. We tried the new "AS You Wish" open seating. We had no problem at all. Each night we went to dinner between 6:00 - 7:00 pm and were able to walk right in and get a table for two without a single minute of waiting. The dining crew was different each night as we never got the same table twice, but they were all very good. The food was impeccable, and served promptly.
We made reservations at the Pinnacle Grill on Tuesday evening, and we had tried it on the Zuiderdam and it was great, but on the Veendam it was not so great. This night it was SPECTACULAR! I had the 24 oz. Porterhouse and my Fiance' had the Steak Dianne. We both had the shrimp cocktail appetizer and scalloped potatoes. The steaks were cooked to perfection and the ambiance was incredible. I would highly recommend this to all how want a nice quiet dinner.
We also made reservations to dine at Canaletto, the new italian restaurant. We did not care for the atmosphere or the food. The food was very bland and somewhat dry. I had the Osso Bucco, and my Fiance' ordered the Chicken Marsala. Neither of us cared to finish our meals. It was ok though because there was no charge for the meal. If I would have had to pay for it I would not have been pleased.
We saw five shows while on the cruise. The entertainment was good, but not even close to what we have seen on the other HAL cruises. I am sure it will get better as time goes on. The violin players in the lounge area were great, and we enjoyed listening to them for a few minutes after dinner.
This was the first cruise that we had been on in the Fall of the year, and on Monday night they had Monday Night Football on the big screen in the Queens Lounge, along with all the football food, nachos hamburgers, hot dogs etc. It was a nice evening.
The Ports of Call were nice. Don't expect to see much in Grand Turk. We took a taxi ride to downtown and learned that the island was destroyed by Hurricane Ike a few months ago, there is NOTHING to see except devastation. San Juan Puerto Rico is VERY nice. We had a great day in port. We ate lunch at an authentic Puerto Rican diner, lots of rum sampling, sight seeing, and lots of walking. It was a great day.
Once we got back to Ft Lauderdale, the disembarkation was flawless. It was by far the smoothest we have ever had. From our room to our car in less than twenty minutes!
In closing, I want to say that we had a wonderful cruise. This is a truly wonderful ship. I would urge everybody to experience it at least once. Now I will give you a few quick observations of this cruise, in comparison to the other HAL ships we have been on. Crew is not as organized or as friendly. Photographers are not as skilled. Cabin Stewards not as through. Room service kitchen not up to HAL standards. Now for the positive of this ship compared to the other HAL ships we have cruised on. Pool area much more modern. Food and dining first class as always. Captain was very professional as are all HAL captains. Public rooms were always beautiful and well kept. Activities to keep everyone busy. Ship is very elegant, you feel privileged to be a part of the cruise.
I hope this review helps many people. I have not been on a cruise yet that was perfect, and probably never will be. Like all people, I only want to be treated properly and have a great time, and we did on The MS Eurodam!!! Can't wait to go on our next HAL Cruise! We put the deposit down on our next cruise while on board!! Happy Cruising!