EMBARKATION: A bit apprehensive after reading several negative reviews, my husband and I (ages 71 and 65) arrived at Ft. Lauderdale, parking at the port's Park 'N Go for $76 for the week. The parking lot shuttle quickly delivered us to the pier where we paid a porter to transport our luggage and began the embarkation process. Because we arrived at a peak time (11:15 a.m.) there was a small wait to begin the process, but nothing onerous, and it allowed us to converse with fellow passengers. Before we knew it we were dining at 12:15 p.m. in the Rembrandt Dining Room (main dining room) in style.
CABIN: We were allowed entry to our cabin at 1:30 p.m. where we found ample storage space (don't forget the drawers under the dust ruffle), plenty of nice, wooden hangers, a good supply of towels and our cabin steward, Samm. When he found that we had brought a number of bottles of wine on board, he volunteered that we might need an ice bucket to chill a bottle, and we started a More
week-long tradition of buckets. As long as we consumed the bottles in our room, there was no corkage charge for the wine, and we saved a lot of money on our bar bill. We heard no noise through the walls but, of course, could hear everything that was said by our neighbors when we were all on the balconies. Samm tidied up our room during our absences, bringing clean towels, and delighted us with his animal towel arrangements.
DINING: We took breakfasts and most lunches in the Lido, enjoying the made-to-order omelettes and the buffet. Dinners were often in the Rembrandt because we liked the ambiance and the opportunity to meet other passengers through the As-You-Wish Dining (we opted for tables for 6). We did not find the service to be impersonal, as others have stated, partly because we went out of our way to speak our few words of Indonesian (learned from Samm) and Tagalog and used our servers' first names. We were remembered, often by name and always with a big smile, each time we entered the dining room. We found the service to be friendly and prompt and the quality of the food very good. The Pinnacle (one of the specialty restaurants that assessed an additional charge) served us excellent steaks and a to-die-for crème brulee. Service at the Tamarind was outstanding.
ENTERTAINMENT: We managed to take in most of the evening shows, enjoying particularly the pianist, Joel, with his Elton John numbers and the comedienne, Julie Barr. We seemed always to be too tired to stay up late for the karaoke and game shows. We did dance at the Ocean Bar to a wonderful trio and would have spent a lot more time there had smoking not been allowed in that particular bar (some areas are non-smoking). We did not spend any time in the casino because that's not our thing and because the smoke was overwhelming. I would have liked to go to the Piano Bar, but it was too crowded every time I passed by obviously a success.
ACTIVITIES: The Culinary Arts Center with its overhead cameras projecting what was happening on the counter was a great place to watch cooking demonstrations and it served as the location to watch Obama's inauguration. I worked out at the fitness center and also attended what I thought was a health-related presentation on the causes and cure of arthritis started off okay but turned out to be a pitch for green algae products, much to my dismay. My facial at the spa was relaxing, albeit pricey ($169). The photos taken of us during the two formal evenings turned out great, so we splurged and bought four of the poses ($39.99 for three poses, with the fourth one free = $120 for four). They are a nice memento of our trip and my birthday.
PORTS: We did not disembark at Grand Turk, primarily because we are not into snorkeling. At San Juan we lasted about 10 minutes walking in the humidity before we started to completely melt; a tour around the city in an air-conditioned van would have been a better choice, and the less expensive tours are available right outside the gate. St. Thomas' many jewelry and gift shops didn't lure us off the ship, but we did disembark at Half Moon Cay, a lovely private island with swimming. Unfortunately, we left at 8:15 a.m. before the sun warmed everything up it was one of the cold blast days in Florida and in the 60's at HMC, too cold to swim.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Eurodam is a lovely ship and the service outstanding. The crew go out of their way to provide friendly and attentive service. The food is generally excellent. The only negative worth noting is the smoking in the Ocean Bar, and I hope HAL rethinks this policy. Less