EMBARKATION DAY: We arrived in FLL the day before the cruise and had dinner at a wonderful restaurant near the beach called The Casablanca Cafe. The seafood entrees were excellent. We spent the night at the Renaissance Hotel in the downtown area. The Renaissance is a beautiful hotel and very convenient to Port Everglades. We were able to see the cruise ships from our window. We arrived at the pier at 10:30 and were quickly checked in and were onboard by 11:20 AM. This was the easiest embarkation we have ever had. We were very happy that the MDR was open for lunch and enjoyed eating there away from the chaos at the Lido. We later found out that lunch in the MDR on embarkation day was only for Mariners, but we weren't told that when we boarded. As a matter of fact, HAL staff was directing everyone to the Lido for lunch. We went to the MDR on our own without knowing that it was open & it was a pleasant surprise. After lunch we dropped off our carry on bags in our cabin and walked around the beautiful Eurodam before we went to our informal Cruise Critic "Meet & Greet." Quite a few people showed up & it was a great way to begin our week. It's always fun to connect names to faces since we had been chatting online for months. We had scheduled a tour in Aruba later in the week with 3 other CC members & our Meet & Greet gave us an opportunity to meet them. We always feel that friendships develop much faster on a cruise ship than on land & CC is a wonderful way to meet others. We went to the muster drill at 4 PM & that evening had reservations at the Tamarind which we had booked online before the cruise. We had high expectations for the Tamarind, because we read so many wonderful reviews on CC and it was as terrific as everyone said it would be. The Tamarind was well worth the extra fee. It was a great way to begin our week with many excellent meals to come in the MDR.
We had an air conditioning problem in our cabin & we contacted Guest Relations to get it resolved. After numerous phone calls to them, we decided to contact the Hotel Manager, Mr. Stan Kuppens, to attempt to get the problem resolved. He handled the problem immediately & followed up to make sure everything was in working order. We appreciated his personal attention to our problem.
DAY 2: HALF MOON CAY: We have been to Half Moon Cay before and thought it was the most beautiful island. We were looking forward to our second visit. Unfortunately, as we got off the tender, it began to rain and the skies were looking very gray. We got off the tender and it poured, so we made the decision to go back to the ship. Later in the day, it did clear up some & we went back over to the island just to walk around. HAL was nice enough to refund our money on the clamshell that we rented because we didn't stay on the island or use it. We had a great day relaxing on the ship...isn't that what you're supposed to do on a vacation...my husband keeps telling me that! We had our first dinner in the MDR and asked for a table for 2 without any reservations. We waited a few minutes and were seated. Dinner was great & so was the service. We didn't go to the shows in the theater, but did enjoy many nights in the various lounges listening to the entertainment there.
We booked cabin 4183, our first aft balcony. It is categorized as a VB rather than a VA, but we're really not sure why. The cabin was fine except for the horrible lighting, especially in the closet area. You could not see in the closet or on the shelves. Every night we felt like we had blindfolds on when we were trying to choose our clothes or find anything. After a few days, we began to laugh about it, but if we ever book the Eurodam again, we will definitely bring flashlights...the lighting is that bad! Other than that, the cabin was great & the view was phenomenal.
DAY 3: SEA DAY: We had breakfast delivered to our cabin & our order came on time and was correct. We sat out on the balcony and enjoyed our wonderful view. We were amazed that the view was so mesmerizing. We've had balcony cabins before, but this was our first aft balcony & now we know why everyone raves about these cabins.
We had our formal CC "Meet & Greet" this morning. We met in the Piano Bar & HAL provided light refreshments. It was fun getting together with everyone that had been chatting on CC for months. It's always refreshing to get together with others who are as crazy about cruising as you are...somehow we all understand each other. After the CC "Meet & Greet" we ate lunch in the MDR & it was great. We spent the rest of the day relaxing & getting to know the ship.
We decided to make reservations in the MDR for dinner & we arranged to have the same table for the rest of the week. We had table 106 (for two) each night. Our server was Sudi & each evening he greeted us with his friendly smile & great service. This is the service that sets HAL apart from the other cruise lines.
DAY 4: ARUBA: We reserved a private 4 hour tour through Bully the Taxi Driver that we read about on CC. Bully was booked, but was nice enough to arrange a substitute driver, Ivan, to show us the highlights of Aruba. Three other CC members joined us. Ivan met us in the terminal with a sign with our name on it. We drove in his air conditioned van and he narrated the tour and answered any questions we had. He was very pleasant and shared his love of Aruba with us. We would definitely recommend this tour to others. It was an enjoyable day & so much better than any of the HAL excursions. Ivan's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dinner was wonderful, as it was on all the other nights. After dinner, we made our nightly visit to the Ocean Bar to listen to The Neptunes, a great three piece jazz combo. The Neptunes were top notch & the female singer had a terrific voice. We also spent some of our evening listening to the Adagio Strings in the Explorer's Lounge & The Piano Man, Les, in the Piano Bar. Les, The Piano Man, was as good as his reviews on CC.
DAY 5: CURACAO: Curacao has a distinctive look with its pastel colored buildings on both sides of the harbor. Standing on our aft balcony gave us a total view of the harbor and the pedestrian pontoon bridge. Since the bridge was open for the Eurodam to pull in, we were able to see it in motion connecting both sides of the harbor. It was a sight to see! We walked around Curacao & purchased some gifts to take home from the Chocolate Shop a few blocks from the pier.
DAYS 6 & 7: SEA DAYS: We were glad to have a few sea days on this cruise to relax. Our day to day lives are so hectic that we had a chance to unwind. We spent some time in the casino and at the various lounges throughout the ship. The lounge entertainment was great.
DAY 8: FORT LAUDERDALE: It's so hard to believe it's over....where did the week go? We left the beautiful Eurodam as late as we could, since we had a late flight. We had a wonderful breakfast in the MDR & sadly got ready to leave. Disembarkation was as orderly as the embarkation. It was great to be able to go back to your cabin after breakfast to wait for your time to leave. The disembarkation process is a silent one & it was the best we ever had.
We took a taxi to the FLL airport & the chaos began. We knew our vacation was over! It took us 2 ½ hours from the time we arrived at the airport until we got to our gate. Now we know what cruising during a holiday is like.
SUMMARY: This was a terrific cruise and meeting other CC members made it even better. We enjoyed spending time with the CC members and sharing many laughs along with our love for cruising!