This was my third cruise with the Holland America line and my first on the newest ship the Eurodam. As with my other cruises, I was not disappointed. I flew down to Ft. Lauderdale the day prior to sailing, staying at the Plantation Renaissance, accommodations arranged by HAL. An excellent hotel, it is located in a rather heavy traffic area and walking around is a little dodgy.
Transfer to Port Everglades the following day went smoothly and the embarkation process was the quickest I've experienced. Bear in mind that the Lido restaurant is quite crowded on embarkation days and I had some difficulty in locating a table. I dropped off my carry-on back, grabbed some food and returned to find an elderly couple moving my bag to swipe my table! As a retired high school teacher, I used my polite but firm teacher voice to inform them that the table was taken!
The cabins were ready by 1:30 and I was very pleased with my "fully obstructed view" stateroom. Even though there was a lifeboat hanging outside the window, it was no big problem. The cabins are spacious with plenty of storage space both in the closets and two large drawers under the bed. My cabin stewards were excellent, friendly and did their work when I was out of the cabin.
The ship itself is well-laid out and easy to find one's way around. I used the provided map for the first hour and then forgot about it. Signs are clearly posted on each floor near the elevators as to facilities on that particular floor. Shipboard announcements are kept to the minimum and the drinks staff provide unobtrusive service.
As to the food service, it was top notch! I enjoyed a room service breakfast served each morning by a smiling waiter. The Tamarind Restaurant deserves very special praise. The servers are beautiful, attentive and friendly. The food is NOT what one would find at a home-town Chinese take-out. The evening meal costs $15 and lunch is complimentaryI enjoyed both. The Lido provides a very wide variety of food, well-prepared and presented. I am a solo traveler and found that if you tip your chair at an angle, resting the back against the table, it not only will reserve your table but serves to signal the wait staff that the table is still occupied. I generally had no problem finding a table close enough to the food areas to minimize walking to the beverage or dessert stations. I used the Rembrandt Dining Room on the two formal nights and enjoyed dinner with a different group of people both times. The food here is presented well and served at the appropriate temperature.
Ports of call: Grand Turks has a very nice cruise center in the port. There are shops, fountains, places to sit and a beach. The town center is accessible by vehicle or very athletic walkers. San Juan is a very interesting place with plenty to see by walking. It would be a good idea to pick up a map, however, to better plan your excursions. It should be noted that I didn't purchase any shore excursions on this cruise, preferring to leave the ship when I liked. St. Thomas is an area at which I wasn't impressed. The Eurodam docked about a mile or so from Charlotte Amalie and with the tropical sun beating down, I didn't feel like I wanted to make the uphill walk. There are, of course, cabs and tour buses at the pier if one wishes to make use of them. Half Moon Cay was a high point for me as it was so relaxing, clean and beautiful turquoise water.
The shows presented in the theatre by the resident dance/singing group were well done and very professional from a technical standpoint. There was also a comic juggler who did an excellent job and Illia and Valerie, former performers with Cirque de Soleil who received a standing ovation. There was also the Indonesian crew show which appears to be the same on most HAL ships.
The only real glitch was disembarkation-it took me a few minutes to locate my bageven though I was directed to the "2nd row," I had no idea where this row was but by looking at the colored tags on other luggage and quickly found my color and group number. The only constructive criticism I might offer at this point is that HAL could arrange the outgoing transportation/flights a bit better. I was taken to the airport, arriving at 9:30 a.m. and my flight was scheduled to leave at 2:55 p.m. even though there was an earlier flight to the same destination at 1:05. While this isn't a major problem, there's only so much Sudoku that a solo traveler can stand in five hours time!
I enjoyed the cruise vacation very much and HAL does a very good job to ensure the enjoyment and comfort of all the passengers in accommodations, food service and entertainment. The on-board staff is friendly, always smiling and works very hard to ensure a pleasant time for all.