The Eurodam's maiden voyage was in July 2008, and I noticed that some of the early reviews complained about the service. They have solved whatever problems they may have had: we found the service to be superb. This was true of our room stewards, the Concierge in the Neptune Lounge (her name is Mel), the servers and wine stewards in the dining rooms, the bartenders (including Gene in the Tamarind Bar), the Front Desk, the tour director (Daniel), the cruise director, (Linda), and the Eurodam staff we passed in the hallways. There was always a friendly greeting and obvious desire to be helpful. They seemed genuinely proud to be working on the Eurodam.
Embarkation: We arrived in Quebec a day early, did some sightseeing, spent the night at the Quebec City Marriott, and took a madcap cab ride to the ship the next day. Check in was pretty easy. We were in our stateroom by 1:30 p.m., and our suitcases were delivered around 3:00 p.m.
Since the cruise spends the first night in port at Quebec, we got an extra day to enjoy the city.
Food: The highlight -- hands down -- was the Tamarind Restaurant. While the food onboard was uniformly very good, in the Tamarind the meals were truly imaginative and memorable. We went back for a second time. It is only an extra $15 per person, but well worth it. This place is a true gem.
The main dining room is the Rembrandt Room. We had "as you like" dining. We generally made a reservation in the morning and were always seated promptly. The service was fine. We mixed it up -- some nights dining together and other nights asking to be seated with other couples.We ate twice at the Pinnacle. The first was their standard steakhouse fare, and, yes, it is very good and what you would expect from an upscale steakhouse. The second was a special (and rather pricey -- ca. $85 per person) wine pairing meal ("Sommelier Dinner"). The meal, however, was superb, and so were the wines, which flowed freely. If you don't mind spending the money, it's a fine, imaginatively conceived meal (e.g., "Consomme Double with Pistachio Quenelles"; "Carpaccio of halibut with Szechuan pepper and lemon salt with a brandade of smoked halibut....")
We dined once at the Caneletto, the Italian restaurant that was created from a section of the Lido. It was OK, but nothing more. It was what you'd get from a neighborhood Italian restaurant back home (spaghetti; lasagna; breaded veal). I can't say that it adds much.
We don't generally eat at the Lido, but we did stroll through it on a number of occasions. The presentations looked terrific. If you'd rather stay casual throughout the entire cruise, then I suspect you'd be well satisfied with the Lido and the withering variety of food choices it offers. In order to keep our weight gain under control, we were eating only breakfasts and dinners. If we were eating lunches, we'd have frequented the Lido.
As for the ship itself: The ship is spotlessly clean. Because it is new, I was expecting it to be visually stunning. In that respect, I was disappointed. It is attractive, but neither the architecture nor the appointments will make your jaw drop. It is, however, an extremely comfortable and relaxing ship. I enjoyed the Explorers Lounge on the top deck, and we loved having drinks before dinner in the Tamarind Lounge, the Ocean Lounge, and the Piano Bar. We also have kudos for the string quarter that performed nightly.
We have never been a fan of shipboard entertainment and were therefore pleasantly surprised by the Eurodam: the shows we saw were very professional and entertaining, and they drew packed audiences.
We have a somewhat mixed response to the ports of call. Saguenay was a disappointment. We went by bus to the Saguenay Fjord and then boarded a boat that took us through the Fjord and all the way back to the Eurodam. The tour guide on the bus was agreeable enough, but there is nothing to see on land. As for the Fjord: I guess we were spoiled by last year's Alaska cruise, but we were expecting something more scenically stunning.
Sydney (Nova Scotia) and Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) were OK, but, again, rather dull. We spent our time in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts. See below for comments on Quebec, Halifax, Bar Harbor, and Newport.Disembarkation: We docked around 7:30 a.m. (We got up early to go to the top deck to see the ship sail under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and past the Statue of Liberty. What a sight!
As for the disembarkation: a bit of a madhouse. As you enter the marine terminal, you emerge into a sea of suitcases all in various color-coded locations. The color coding system works reasonably well, but you still have to step over other people's luggage in order to retrieve your own, and some of our fellow travelers were getting a bit testy and exasperated.
Fortunately, there are guys with carts available to help you once you have located your luggage. Ours took us out to the taxi stand, warned us against the gypsy cab drivers who kept coming up to us to ask if we wanted a cap, hailed a licensed NYC cab for us, which took us to Penn Station. We were able to check our baggage at the Baggage Check even though our train wasn't leaving until 7:00 p.m. that evening. Taking a licensed cab is important: the cab ride to Penn Station was only $10.00. If we had taken an unlicensed ("gypsy") cab, it would have been considerably more.
Once we checked the baggage, we had the day to ourselves in New York. We took a carriage ride through Central Park, had lunch near Lincoln Center, and saw the terrific revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center.
In sum: What we like about Holland America is that the service is great without being intrusive. You don't have loud speakers blaring at you all day telling you what to do; nor are there people who are constantly imploring you to buy something or do something. It is a great ship for people who want a comfortable and relaxing shipboard experience with lots of good food and good company, and decent entertainment.