Background Information - we were a party of two adult couples and this is our fifth cruise together during the Christmas period. We have previously cruised with Carnival, Costa, Celebrity and Princess. This review is essentially of the ship and not the itinerary as we did not sign up for any excursions and stayed aboard in all but one of the ports. However, since you are unlikely to be signing up for the same cruise I think you will find the information here about "Eurodam" itself of more use.
The embarkation was interrupted by a fire alarm which resulted in a longer than usual line prior to entering the terminal. However, once inside the lines were very short and fast moving and check-in was a breeze. In our experience, this is as good as it gets, and kudos to Holland America for a very well managed embarkation process.
Once aboard "Eurodam" it quickly became apparent that this ship is in a different class to the Carnival, Costa and Princess ships we had tried before. At the time of this cruise, "Eurodam" was approximately six-months old and absolutely stunning. The ship is beautifully fitted out and immensely elegant. The decor and lighting have obviously been very carefully designed and the effect is both warm and soothing - the complete opposite in fact to the experience that Carnival appears to strive for, where the emphasis is to provoke a reaction wherever possible. I have no objection to the design of the Carnival ships, but we as a group were certainly glad that Holland America had been allowed to go in a completely different direction by the parent company.
We had adjoining staterooms 7118 and 7120, on the "Rotterdam" deck. The staterooms were typical in terms of dimensions, but again the quality of the decor and materials was first class. The bathrooms had a tub which also doubled as a shower. While smaller than an average bathtub at home, it was nonetheless a luxury that we very much appreciated. There is plenty of storage space, including drawers that are built into the bed, and three closets. Because we had adjoining staterooms, our cabin steward opened the door between the two verandas, which gave us a very large space outside to enjoy. It should be noted that the adjoining veranda doors on "Eurodam" are positioned on the rail-side of the veranda, and not the cabin-side. This is a very nice feature because when the partition is opened it gives the impression of one large veranda and one long railing. Most other ships have the partition door on the cabin-side and not the rail-side. The floor of the veranda has an imitation wood/teak effect which is very effective. It is much more attractive than the blue plastic veranda floors that we had been used to on previous ships.
While still on the subject of the stateroom I should mention our cabin steward, who was absolutely wonderful. Both friendly and discrete he never disturbed us and always found exactly the right time to clean and service the stateroom. The level of service throughout the ship was excellent in fact, and during our 7 days aboard Eurodam we never had any problems with the crew.
At 86,000 gross tonnes (a measure of the volume of the ship incidentally and not it's actual weight) "Eurodam" is slightly smaller than many of the new mega-liners built by Carnival, but much of the difference here is in passenger accommodation. There are fewer staterooms on "Eurodam" and a smaller passenger complement, but the public areas and facilities were very similar in scale to larger ships we have experienced. The ship has most of the features that regular cruise-goers expect, including well-equipped staterooms, state of the art public rooms, exercise facilities, cafes and bars, communication/internet facilities, shops/boutiques, theater and other entertainment venues. Most notable is the excellent shop, and also the pool/lido deck area, which has a retractable roof that is closed at night. This area is very nicely presented, with palm trees and cabanas which are available for hire. There is no big screen, which is probably a deliberate decision by Holland America to reduce the noise and stress levels poolside. It certainly worked because this area was always very pleasant.
As well as the large screen, the designers of this ship omitted to include a card room and self-service laundry facilities. We like to play cards and were able to find a number of places aboard that were a suitable alternative so the card room was not an issue. Neither was the laundry facility, although on a longer cruise this would have been a factor.
Elsewhere on the ship, the main "atrium"/lobby area amidships is very elegant and spans three decks. The stairs here are made of triple-plated glass and the lighting has been designed to highlight this. The effect is stunning, although stepping onto a glass staircase does seem strange at first.
As a frequent gym-user, the quality and availability of the gymnasium equipment is an important factor to me, and this was one of the few areas where "Eurodam" did not excel. The gym was relatively small and crowded, and the equipment, while new and contemporary, was not very effective in my experience. Overall the gym was not a particularly pleasant place to spend time. I did not sample any of the classes or pay-services so cannot comment on these.
The Rembrandt dining room was superb and the wait for a table was never more than a few minutes. In fact, we were able to secure our favorite table on the lower level more often than not. The food was excellent throughout, as was the selection. There is a world of difference in quality between Holland America and Carnival, despite the latter being the parent company. The only time we had a wait of more than a few minutes in this dining room was the last formal night of the cruise, which was XMAS eve.
Both of the premium restaurants, Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind, were first-rate and worth the premium ($30 if I recall).Our preference was Tamarind slightly because the service was exceptional, but neither could truly be faulted.
The main theater on the ship is large but not particularly well designed and there were sightline issues in the majority of the seats. The quality of the shows themselves was adequate, but we have seen better on Princess and Carnival, and this was one of the few disappointing aspects to Eurodam.
There are a plenty of bars and lounges aboard Eurodam and it was very hard to pick a favorite because they were all good. We did spend quite a lot of time in the "Crows Nest" and "Explorations Cafe" because this was where the many of the group activities took place. The book and DVD library was also in this area, and was exceptional. However, as is often the case on cruise ships in my experience, the lounges and bars were overly air-conditioned.
The casino appeared reasonably well equipped but not particularly outstanding. I say this because I don't frequent casinos and so am not well qualified to judge the facilities at hand.
We did not sign up for any activities or excursions on this cruise so I cannot comment on these. Additionally we had visited most of the ports on previous Caribbean cruises so did not venture off the ship, except in St Maarten. On Caribbean cruises we tend to place high importance on the ship and less importance on the itinerary since most ports are relatively similar in our experience.
The price of drinks aboard this ship was pleasantly low and because we did not sign up for any excursions, our final bill came to approximately $600 per person for the 7-day period. This made for a very good value overall from our perspective. Disembarkation was smooth. We opted to take our own luggage off the ship which required an early start to the day, but we were off the ship and on our way with no fuss at all.. In summary, Eurodam is a superb ship, with first-rate service, accommodation and food. It is undoubtedly the best ship we have experienced since we started cruising regularly in 2004. However, it should be noted that this ship might not appeal to the teenage/twenty-something cruisers as much as the Carnival and Royal Caribbean fleet. If you are not in that particular demographic though, I would recommend this ship without hesitation.