In December 2008, my wife and I elected to make reservations on HAL's newest ship the Eurodam. This would be our sixth cruise, our first on HAL. My wife and I, age 45 and 37 respectively, began to question our decision after we discovered the Cruise Critic website and began reading the various member reviews. However, having just returned from the Eurodam, we felt compelled to share our amazing experience with HAL!
Embarkation - Since we live in the state of Florida, we chose to drive to Port Everglades and arrived at 12:15pm; within 30 minutes of our arrival at the port's security gates we had parked our car in the parking garage, checked our luggage, completed the boarding process, made independent dinner reservations for each night of the week while onboard, and were on the Lido Deck enjoying a wonderful lunch, sipping on a refreshing cocktail, and calling family and friends to share in our excitement.
Stateroom - We booked a VF category, but were upgraded to a VA category at no cost. Thank you HAL, we truly enjoyed the enormous balcony! From the very comfortable mattresses to the quaint bathtub my wife so dearly loved, we found our stateroom to be the best encountered to date. Storage was comparable to past cruise lines with the exception of the storage drawers located at the ends of each bed, this provided additional storage not previously encountered during past cruises. Our stateroom steward was outstanding! Our room was always immaculate and the ice and towels fresh. Note: Staterooms are not available until 1:30pm, so if you arrive extremely early, expect to wait for your room; luggage was delivered by 5:00pm
Dining - We opted for open dinning when making our reservations in an effort to allow us flexibility in dining times and eating venues. We found the food and service at all venues to be outstanding! Yes, the main dining room was a little slow, but one must take into account the significant number of persons dining. Here are just a few pointers to ensure your dining experience is as wonderful as ours: Review the sample menus on-line to determine where you want eat, agree upon which venue to eat at nightly in advance, make reservations immediately upon boarding, and enjoy the ambiance each venue has to offer. A must is the Tammarind Restaurant; you won't be disappointed! Special Note: Yes, the area around the Lido Buffet can become congested at times, but I think it's important to note that that is what happens when large masses of people converge on a single location. Patients is a virtue!
HAL Staff - From the moment we arrived at the cruise terminal for embarkation until we departed the cruise terminal after disembarkation, every employee of HAL encountered greeted us with a smile and warm remark; my wife and I paid particular attention to how the staff interacted with us and other passengers based upon the various reviews we read. I have to be honest, not all encounters observed between the staff and passengers were pleasant. In these instances we found that is was actually the passengers being rude to staff members.
Disembarkation - Very smooth and efficient! Expect baggage tags to be delivered to room the day before disembarkation. Luggage will need to be placed outside your door by 1:00am, the morning of disembarkation. We were scheduled to disembark at 9:15am, but were offered 8:45am. The whole process of claiming luggage and clearing customs took less than 20 minutes.
My wife and I found our experience with HAL and the Eurodam to be amazing! We highly recommend both to anyone who is considering a cruise. We will return!