This was our second quadrennial graduation cruise with both of our daughters. (We should be done after this one.) The last time they were both graduating, we went on a Celebrity Cruise. Our travel agent persuaded us to go on the Eurodam. We were skeptical because my husband and I are 51 are our daughters are in their 20's. We thought of Holland-America as cruise line for those age 70 and up. Not during a holiday week. It was perfect for our family. We loved it. In fact, it was clear that this ship was geared toward an older crowd and we all appreciated it. By going during the week of Christmas, there were many families but most had kids who were age 20 and up and I think most of them managed to find each other during the course of the week.
One caveat about this review: We tend to be very easygoing. That means that things that might bother others don't bother us.
We were very impressed with the Eurodam and Holland-America. We arrived around 1:30 and it was crowded at the port. It was somewhat chaotic for us because we were missing one piece of luggage and we had to go shopping to outfit my husband before coming to the ship (we arrived the night before - highly recommended for a winter cruise coming from a northern climate and a snowstorm). My girls and I were tearing apart shopping bags and putting the clothes into a new duffel at the port. Everyone was understanding. There was a long line to embark but it kept moving. This is in contrast to other experiences we have had on other lines. The wait didn't bother as long as the line kept moving.
We were able to get into our rooms immediately and some of our bags were already there when we arrived. (Alas we never got the lost bad and we had Delta ship it back to Detroit - the front desk was great about helping us with it as was our travel insurance company. The travel insurance made the lost bag a good story to tell. We recommend buying the insurance.) We had adjoining staterooms on the 8th deck with verandas. We had booked guaranteed staterooms in the front of the ship with the possibility of an upgrade. We definitely got the upgrade and ended up just below the Lido deck and just aft of mid-ship.
The staterooms were quite spacious and had a lot of storage. In addition to the drawers under the bed, we had storage above our couch, although our daughters' room did not have this extra cabinet. We also discovered that the closets could be converted to allow for more shelf space and less hanging space because some of the shelves folded up. They also give you plenty of wooden hangers. One tip: if you don't use them all and it gets rocky one night, put them on the floor of the closet or they will tap as the ship sways and you may not be able to sleep.
The furniture in our room was very comfortable, including on our veranda. We were docked across from a Princess ship in St. Maarten and it was clear that the furniture on our verandas was much nicer than on the Princess ship. The lighting in the room was a little odd, although I really loved the reading lights over the bed that could be adjusted to many positions.
The room was extremely quiet. We never heard sound from either adjacent room or in the halls. Our daughter asked if we could hear the music she was playing for an hour one evening. Not a note. Likewise, I was concerned that it might be noisy being just below the pool or the Lido buffet. The only time it was a problem was when the ship was rocky and something was making a noise from above. It wasn't so loud that we couldn't sleep.
The only true complaint was that the room didn't have a clock. If you want a clock, bring one with you.
The bathroom was the best we have seen on a cruise. It was nice to have a tub and the water pressure was incredible with excellent fixtures in the shower.
In general, since the ship is brand new, everything looks fresh. We thought the furnishings around the ship were very well done. Very classy. Not glitzy but comfortable with a contemporary feel. We found all of the common areas to be done in relaxing hues and with furniture that was inviting and comfortable. Check out the art on the ship. The contemporary art is quite interesting. In addition, look at the photos the old Holland-America ships. It was poignant for me. My grandfather came to the U.S. on the Noordam in 1903. It was not so luxurious for him. I think he would have approved of the upgrade.
We thought the food was wonderful and we are usually pretty critical of cruise food. It was some of the best food we have had on a cruise and it was very consistent.
We ate breakfast and most lunches in the Lido buffet. At breakfast, be sure to check out the specialties of the day in the "entree" line and in the omelet line. You can have Eggs Benedict served in about 6 varieties daily. The muesli is great if you like that (I do). The orange juice is fresh-squeezed. The only disappointment is that they do not have a great variety of fruit. We were all hoping to have tropical fruits like guava, papaya and mango each day at breakfast and, as far as I know, they never had them. Not that we ever went hungry.
One thing that we found out during the cruise, is that in the Explorations lounge on the 11th deck, they have cinnamon buns everyday that are like Cinnabons. Unreal. And on our cruise they did a cooking demonstration for the cinnamon buns and gave out the recipe.
We did not eat in the dining room for lunch. We did eat at the grill on deck and they have every type of burger you could want (including fish and lamb). Really good. In the Lido they have a great salad bar every day and a good sandwich bar. They had hot entrees that were good. But we like eating the daily variety of Asian food that they served. I knew it was good when I saw members of the crew eating it for lunch since you know that the menu doesn't vary much week to week.
The Lido is open pretty much all of the time for snacks like ice cream and dessert and other items like Mexican food and Italian food. On the last night they had mussels on the hot bar at about 5 pm. They were one of the best things I ate that week. One thing that's great is they don't nickel and dime you on the food. The ice cream was all free. Not so on other ships. Also, most nights they had a late night snack in the buffet. I think we went once or twice, although mostly to look, since I'm a bit of a "foodie", I wanted to see what they were serving, even if I didn't partake.
We ate dinner in the dining room each night and we thought the food was excellent for a cruise. There was nothing that anyone ordered that wasn't at least very good and most was excellent. The lamb chops and prime rib were served as ordered and were as good as in any steak house. They had special menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas (as well as a special midnight buffet on Christmas Eve)and they were very good with items like goose and pheasant on Christmas Eve and Filet Mignon and lobster tail on Christmas. The evening we were in Tortola we opted to eat at the barbeque on deck which was a nice break from the heavy meals, not that we lacked for anything to eat that evening either.
We had "as you wish" dining. We enjoyed it and ended up eating pretty close to what would be second seating, as it turned out. You could reserve a time to eat each night and if you want to do that, I recommend doing that when you get on the ship to be sure you get the time and the table size you want. We would have liked to have shared our table with other people so we could meet people. We were only able to do that once. If you want to do that, tell them when you make reservations that you have, say, four in your party but you would like to sit at a table for eight.
We did eat at the Pinnacle Grill one night. It is absolutely worth the upcharge. We thought it compared more than favorably with the upscale steakhouses that are in major cities. It was clearly the best meal we had on the ship. We didn't eat at Tamarind, although we heard only mixed reviews from those who had.
During the day, we very much enjoyed being on deck. The ship was full but there were plenty of deck chairs. We don't use the pool that much so we couldn't comment. The hot tubs were fine. The one curious thing was that the pool that had the cabanas and the padded deck chairs was the family pool. On other ships, that was the adult pool. There were so few kids, it didn't really matter. It was different from our experience on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.
This ship doesn't have all of the bells and whistles that other cruise ships have. Our younger daughter said she would rather go without the rock wall that she might climb once in favor of nicer amenities on the ship. That sums up the Eurodam quite well.
One amenity that I really enjoyed was the Culinary Arts Center. I really liked the Food Network-style cooking demonstrations. It was part of the reason we chose this ship. Get to the demos on time. They are pretty short, maybe half an hour. A good break from the sun on a sea day.
We also spent a lot of time in the gym. It was a very good facility and it generally had more than enough equipment, except maybe the first morning. The equipment was high quality and all of it worked. The sap was nice, although we didn't pay to use the pools that were available. Those who did said they were great.
At night we went to the shows. The shows were a bit over-produced for our taste - a lot of special effects that sometimes got in the way of the singing. The theater is very nice. Again, very comfortable, not glitzy, but classy in its style. Our girls went to the club each night to hang out with the other 20- somethings. (Be sure they carry ID. They carded and they wouldn't always rely on the ship room key pass to see if they were over 21 - which they both are.) We also went to the Piano Bar a lot. We weren't fond of the layout of that room since there weren't many seats around the piano and the others were somewhat distant. However, it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Bob has left the ship by now so they should have a new "piano man" who will hopefully be as much fun as Bob.
We thought the service on the ship was outstanding. The crew had a very positive attitude and were great from top to bottom. I'm not sure that Shane, the cruise director, ever sleeps. It's clear that the captain and have set a good tone for the crew. The crew is very engaging and hard-working. We liked that we actually had a team of two cabin stewards who were very efficient and friendly. They actually knew one another in Indonesia. The other aspect we think is terrific is that most of the service crew is either from Indonesia or the Philippines. We thought that having only two cultures made for a more cohesive team and that there were few cultural problems among the crew members, especially since it is clear that the anyone regardless of their background could be a waiter or a steward. On other ships, people of different nationalities were stratified into certain jobs and we found that offensive. On Holland-America, they celebrate the cultures by serving food from Indonesia and the Philippines and by having a crew show, our week, by the Indonesian crew.
One other touch that was nice. It was Chanukah the week we were on the ship. Each night the arranged for a menorah so we could have a candle-lighting and they served potato latkes (with incredibly good applesauce) as is traditional. They also gave out Chanukah gelt (chocolate candy) and dreidels (traditional tops) one evening. A lot of people went each night for the candle-lighting.
We didn't do any shore excursions, although we signed up to parasail but it was too windy. In general, we weren't interested in what they offered on this cruise.
We really liked the itinerary because we had two full days at sea and then two half days between Grand Turk and Tortola. If you like to be on the ship, this itinerary is a really good mix.
Finally, I enjoyed the Walk for the Cure for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It was also a very nice touch.
All in all, I would highly recommend this ship. However, if we were to go back when it wasn't a a holiday, we would probably travel with friends just to be sure that we aren't the only ones under 70 on the ship.