I am a single Male mid 50s and I enjoy about 1 cruise per year. My first 3 Cruises were HAL, but I have "been away" and tried Princess, RCCL and Celebrity since my last time with HAL. I flew from the westcoast of Canada down to FLL the day before, getting in quite late. Next morning after breakfast I headed down to the pier to wait to board. IT was still on the early side so things were understandably a bit chaotic as the last stragglers left the terminal and the early birds like me showed up. We were lined up outside to wait, and HAL ground staff were very pleasant and made sure all was okay, that bags were labeled and handed to the Porters, boarding cards done on line etc. Soon they handed out the "I don't have Noro" declarations, and soon after that we were let into the terminal to check in. It was about 11:30 A.M. and checkin was a breeze, then onto the ship. Here was a minor snag. The Cabins were not ready, which is fine, but nobody told me this fact at all. But no problem, off to the Lido for Lunch, and after a leisurely lunch again check on the cabin readiness. No sign no nothing. So went up to the Seaview Bar for a drink. Prompt friendly service, and my Waitress on being asked told me that she thought cabins would be ready around 1:30 P.M. Sure enough about 12:30 and announcement was made to this effect. Celebrity on my last cruise with them, let us know when we boarded that cabins would not be ready until about x hour, and I feel HAL could/should have done this as well here. Minor problem easily fixed and not worth any moaning or knashing of teeth, just could have been done better. About 1:15 I went down to wait for the cabins to open, my Bag was right there so I grabbed it to take with me, which was handy!
Cabins soon were available and in I went. First time in a Balcony (17 Category upgrade!!!)Cabin. The cabin itself was pretty standard, a bit bigger than past cabins, but I don't need much space anyways! Thanks to Cruise Critic I knew that there were drawers under the bed, and made use of one of them. I feel that HAL should have put the drawers in the closet, as big drawers under the bed does not seem to be as good to me as multiple drawers elsewhere. After settling in for a while I went up to the Seaview Pool Bar to meet a few fellow Cruise Critics before Life Boat drill. We sat outside getting to know each other, and then the rains came, so we dispersed! Life Boat drill, I always wonder why every Cruise Line seems to do it differently! It is a very necessary "pain" and always a good indication that the Holiday is about to start! Again a minor what was/is HAL thinking came up during the drill. Cabin numbers have been taken, the drill explained about loading, and Women and Children first etc., and then just when you feel that you will be released, they put on a demonstration of how to put on your life jacket! Shouldn't that be at the start? We have had them on for 10 - 15 minutes already, and the crew have helped anyone who needed it! Now it is really raining hard, and a lot of people are soaked, but I did not hear anyone complaining- amazing! Drill being over I start to explore the ship a little more. The Eurodam is a very well laid out ship, never crowded, and always another nook, cranny, sitting area, Lounge or Bar to settle in to, very nice. Too wet to watch the sailaway from my Balcony or anywhere outside, and soonish we are informed that due to high winds for our safety, the outside decks are off limits. If only HAL had control over the Weather! I was fixed dining second sitting. So I now had a few hours until dinner. The bathroom was certainly a bit bigger than I have had in the past, the Bathtub is tiny but it is there, I am not certain how many people ever use them. I stand 6ft 2inches, so no way to even consider it! Another minor "howcome" was in the Tub/Shower, the soap dish was way down near the top of the tub! Why on earth did they not think when building the ship to put in 2 soap dishes, 1 high 1 low? Oh well just as I say a "howcome" rather than anything to worry about.
Appetizers with drinks before dinner were a nice touch and appreciated. Good service at all the bars and lounges throughout the week at all times. My Waiter and Busboy were not the best ever. They seemed to be new and while they tried hard and were friendly and cheery, they did not have the usual memory! I had to ask for coffee each night and on a few nights the table was not completely set by the time we got in. Food was good but Celebrity (on my last cruise at least) still is better. Formal nights on HAL they just put a fancy covering on the Chairs, but on Celebrity the Waiters have a different uniform, the tables somehow are more elegant and the meals are taken to the next level. Minor points, but this is where Celebrity takes a small lead. We had a Cruise Critic Party the 1st day at sea. This was poorly attended by those on the roll call, which was a pity, because HAL put on a very good party! The Cruise Director purchased us all at least one drink, nice appetizers were passed around, and even the Beverage Manager dropped by to say hello! Despite not officially hosting like RCCL or CEL do, HAL was top notch here and kudos to all involved. I had a lunch in the Tamarind and was very impressed, I will go back someday and have a dinner there!
I had a dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, and was not a dazzled as I had hoped to be! Superb decor, comfortable seating, but in the end it is just a Steak House with pretensions. Very good steak (1 pound porterhouse) nice service, but I felt a bit rushed! Food came too quickly and I was done in just over 1 hour. I am I guess to used to the Alternative Restaurants on Celebrity and a full menu and a long superb dinner.
My cabin was always made up while I had Breakfast down in the Rembrandt, which was greatly appreciated.
I had done Ports of call save for Grand Turk and HMC before, so again If only HAL could have controlled the weather! But kudos to Johnny and the CD staff for so quickly organizing a day at seas activities on a moments notice. We could not get into Grand Turk due to high winds, and kudos to HAL for announcing mid day that the port charges would be automatically credited to our account and to the Captain and the Hotel Director for buying a round of Champagne for all. Nice touch! Half Moon Cay is wonderful, If only HAL could have made the sea a little warmer, I might still be there!
All in all HAL and Celebrity are very close in style and service and I have no problem with HAL after this return visit, but still rate Celebrity a tiny bit higher than HAL. This is my opinion and my review and it is worth what you pay for it!