I'll cover embarkation and disembarkation at the same time because its easy. They both went very well. I have been on other cruises and it was a cluster of frustrated people. Embarkation for the Eurodam was both easy and very friendly. Disembarkation was silent and while there was a tiny wait to get out the door; it was pretty quick and organized and depressing for me because it was the end of a beautiful vacation.
The Good Stuff: Our cabin was beautiful and huge and the veranda was big and inviting and we spent every morning drinking our coffee and eating our breakfast in our pajamas and drinking in the view in the fresh air. Some people say they don't care about their cabin, but I do; we actually use it and the bathroom was huge which allowed us to get ready at the same time comfortably. The room service tray didn't consume the room either, for example. There was so much space for clothes we could not use it all.
The ship itself is beautiful. So many ships now look so garish, like some ridiculous thing from Nickelodeon, but the Eurodam is classically beautiful, with subdued colors. You feel like you are at a swanky, high-end hotel for "shooters."
The dining room is very pretty and the food comes out just as pretty and delicious. Ours was a table for two with a beautiful view of the upper and lower levels, and allowed us a private, romantic dinner every night. We would have tried the optional restaurants if our dinners were not good, but they were, so we didn't bother paying an additional fee for an alternate menu, plus they were booked solid, from what I heard.
The pools were lovely... but there were issues there, so I'll leave that for the "bad news" part.
Nothing to say about the Eurodam's Children's Program as both my boyfriend and I left our wonderful children with our ex's! (I know, yea us!)I will say though, I was on the Westerdam with my kids, and they loved the kid club on that cruise.
I loved too, that the photographers were on the ship, but were not in-your-face like they used to be. If you want a professional picture taken, you can stand in line and get what you want; if you don't... keep walking. Its nice. We mostly went walking, but the one time we had them taken, I must say, they turned out lovely, and I wish like heck the cruise lines would begin making those photos a perk for booking a cruise with them and not make us pay for them... they are so expensive and you pay so much to fly to the port and so much for the cruise and the drinks, etc.
OK, so the food was good, the cabin was awesome, the ship was beautiful... the ports... Half Moon Cay was nice. Last visit it was sunny out, and the island was out-of-control-beautiful and filled with tons of fun water sport things to do, but it was raining this time... but I have to tell you... I still loved it! I had no kids, and I jumped on that tender boat with my boyfriend beaming at me and we found a cool bar with a fairly unfriendly bartender who made fantastic drinks and we loved it! We walked to the next area and had a drink with a fellow cruiser and then walked the beach. Ahhhh... vacation!
Aruba: Lots of shopping on Aruba and we didn't need a tender boat so getting off the ship was a snap. We elected to catch a cab and had it dump us off at the beach.... such a great move! We laid out in the sun, walked the beach, laid out a little more, walked to a cute little bar that sits right on the water and drank in the atmosphere before slipping through one of the hotels to catch a cab back to the ship. Do go to the beach when in Aruba; its so worth it.
Curacao: Woah, talk about shopping! They have it on both sides of the bridge and we thought that was all there was to the island, and failed to go to the beach... still kicking ourselves. The buildings are colorful and beautiful and the shopping was plentiful... still, we elected to get back on the ship and enjoy the pool.
The Bad Stuff: The Pools- I mean, here we were, on vacation, paid double what the cabin goes for on a normal cruise because it was a Holiday Cruise, and we can't get two spaces at either pool? Why, you might ask? Because people get up early, they bring a bag of crap to the pool, place a hat on one chair, a book on another, a shirt ties 2 chairs together, another shirt ties 2 more, and voila, one person has taken 12 lounge chairs! No one comes to lie in the chairs for hours, just the sun worshiper who saved the chairs stays and guards them. Their were a ton of people like this; it was terrible, and Holland America's staff does nothing about it. Shame on them. Why should I have to pay some ridiculous fee to "reserve a cabana" to insure I have a place at the pool? One day, my boyfriend was so irritated, he pulled the towel that was "saving" a chair and told me to have a seat while he brought fresh towels... much to a chair saving New Yorker.
Someone else mentioned the "Angry Pizza Man," and to them I raise my glass and share a laugh! He was a miserable cuss wasn't he? I mean, Geeze, can't the guy pretend to like the passengers? I wanted a burger real badly one day, so my boyfriend found a nice table in the sun for us, left me with my book and went to order a couple of burgers.... I think I read an entire chapter before they finished our two simple burger orders and he returned! I had to look to see if his shave had turned into a beard!
While our cabin was truly awesome, we had to hunt our room steward down to get toilet paper! He let us get so low without leaving an extra roll, same thing with the kleanex, I had to leave a note for him to replace the shower gel, as it was empty. Typically those things are noticed and taken care of in any hotel or cruise ship. Also, I asked for extra towels on day one, and had to ask daily for same.
The spa was booked solid for massages. We wanted a couples massage and found no openings! This is a common complaint on these holiday cruise reviews, I have noticed, so here's my advice, if you take a holiday cruise, take advantage of booking these things on-line before your cruise begins; if you feel like canceling a couple days before, do it, but at least you have something booked. Live and learn. Same holds true for the special restaurants, but to that I can only advise, if the reservation is that important to you, grease the palm of the restaurant manager, and I'll bet they find you a table.... just saying.
The Ship's Doctor: Their was a day when, as George from Seinfeld would say, "The seas were angry that day, my friend," and I wanted to get medicine for nausea, but the doctor did not have hours to see anyone when I felt nauseated. Kinda funny really.
Back to the good stuff: We loved the Crow's Nest for evening drinks and atmosphere. Neil was a great mix-master and friendly. We loved the view up there too, during the daylight hours. The piano bar was a great place to go to enjoy fun music and laughs, but service is s l o w!
Here's the bottom line, folks. Come on your cruise with people you love, people who you can make sport out of the "bad stuff," because if you can make jokes about it, nothing can ruin your good time. Ultimately, you make your own good time. We gave our fellow passengers who saved lounge chairs fictitious family names and joked about them throughout the cruise, making their glutenous behavior something to laugh about. Having to get our own toilet paper after paying an extraordinary amount of money for a fancy suite is terrible, but we laughed about it. I had the best time and it had so much to do with the company I kept! We loved our cruise, we loved the Eurodam and while I don't feel compelled to take the same cruise ship or the same cruise line the next time, I sure wouldn't rule it out!