My husband and I had not traveled by cruise ship for almost 20 years, so this cruise was an important vacation for us and also for our 2 teenage boys. I researched like crazy to make sure I was making the right decision as to which ship we would travel on, how much we would spend, and which ports we would cruise to.
It was important to me, in these financial times, that we would be good stewards of our money but also have a fantastic time and not feel we had skimped on anything. After checking many websites and asking numerous friends for advice, I found great advice on Cruise Critic and gleaned much of the information I needed from their vast website. Although the Eurodam is considered a "premium" line, being more upscale and elegant than some of the other lines, and not having as many of the positive reviews for our boys' ages, I took a chance and booked our Easter cruise on this new Holland America ship. Now that we've been home a week and have had time to reflect, we all know we made the perfect decision.
Embarkation the afternoon before Easter day was a breeze and the staff was so friendly and professional, yet relaxed, which set the tone for our exciting adventure. We went immediately to our well-appointed rooms and were thrilled that they were so spa-like and cozy. We reserved 2 side-by-side cabins so that we had plenty of room and that turned out to be a great decision. Although small-ish, we were amazed at the great design of the storage in this Outside Veranda room. Every detail was thoroughly addressed and it was incredible how much storage they put in every nook and cranny. I used the closet directly across from the bathroom door as my dressing area and then could keep the sink area relatively clear. The bathtub was an added bonus, as were the loveseat, chair, and adjustable coffee table. There was extra storage under the bed and inside the dressing table bench. Our suitcases were out of sight the entire trip. I would have preferred drawers to all the shelving, but at least I could easily see all of my clothing. We reserved 2 obstructed view rooms but were fortunate to get one of only 4 boats with panoramic windows so that we still could see the shore, the ocean, and the sunlight, although we given a considerable discount for these rooms.
The ship itself was very clean and well organized, easy to manipulate because of the great ship maps outside of each elevator, and very elegant and well appointed. It was also quite quiet throughout, which was lovely. Each bar or restaurant was different and yet luxurious in its own way. We chose the Lido open dining because my husband has low blood sugar and we need to eat "on demand" and this suited my family well. However, it was no problem to choose the sit-down Remington to eat in on one occasion, which was a nice change. The Pinnacle Grill was a wonderful up-scale steakhouse, with fabulous food and wait staff. Our favorite restaurant, though, was the Tamarind. This elegant Japanese dining room had some of the most exquisite food any of us had ever eaten. Course after course was out of this world and many on the ship felt the same way. It was first class in every sense of the word! Wow! Make your reservations early, though, as we were only able to eat there this one time and would have again but it was booked.
Having "met" many people through the "Roll Call" for our ship, I had organized a Meet and Greet for those who I had been blogging with. We were not disappointed! The Eurodam staff went out of their way late on Easter morning to make us feel welcome. About 35 of us met for refreshments and conversation up in the Crow's Nest bar, a sprawling comfortable lounge overlooking the sea from far above the rest of the ship. Our drinks never ran dry as the waiters made sure we were comfortable and well taken care of. What a great way to start our vacation with such a caring crew!
The ports of call were all fabulous as far as we were concerned and the disembarkation at each port was easy and fast. The pool at Grand Turk was exactly what the doctor ordered to start our island hopping and just being in the water and drinking our pina coladas at the swim-up bar were enough for us so that we never ventured farther than that. My family went back to the ship for lunch and I treated myself to a $10.95 burger and a Corona poolside at Margaritaville. Never having been to San Juan, we rented Segways right at the port (our only non-Holland America excursion), which was the best, especially for my teen boys - it was one of the highlights and we were able to see so much more in those 2 hours than we ever would have on foot. Walking through Old San Juan was great and we did a little shopping, too. We loved the history and the beautiful buildings and were happy that our ship stayed in port here until 11:00 at night. Landing in St. Thomas, we decided to do our first Holland America excursion and spend the day over in St. John. We signed up for this at the last minute, but HAL made it so easy and we just got off the ship in the morning and right onto the large tender. The staff was great and there was a lot of good information about the islands by the tour operator during our boat ride. We snorkeled at Trunk Bay and it was wonderful for novice snorkelers! My boys loved it! The entire trip was very well organized and relaxing. Our last stop was Half Moon Cay, a private island owned by HAL, which was just beautiful, pristine, and well-appointed. The beach was beautiful, sand like powdered sugar, and the bathrooms were clean. There was a great kid area at one end of the beach and the excursions were well-organized. We surprised our boys with para-sailing at this port and they were lucky enough to experience a school of dolphins on their way out to sea! As soon as we saw them off, we ran to the beach to watch from shore and the wait staff from the ship came walking down the sand holding trays of cocktails and refreshments, smiling and singing to us! I started to sing and dance with them and they surrounded me... it's one of my favorite snapshots of the trip!
Holland America did not disappoint this family of four. We loved every moment of our vacation with the Eurodam, from our clean rooms (our room porter was friendly yet discreet, he always had everything just so, every single time we went into our room - thanks, Hardy!), to the beautiful artwork on the walls, to the entertainment (very impressive for a cruise ship - excellent!), to the food. There were not many kids on this ship, just enough that our boys met a few others their ages, but we were never overwhelmed with noise from too many kids running around yelling or getting in your way. We never mentioned the possibility to them that there might not be many, and they thought it was just right, so it goes to show that there doesn't need to be umpteen kids to make your kids happy. The facilities for the children and the teens were great and there were a lot of night time activities for all ages.
Thank you, HAL, for wonderful memories and a glorious vacation... we wouldn't have had it any other way!