I was on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean itinerary on the Eurodam in early Jan with a friend as kind of a last vacation before I ship out for Afghanistan. We were on a cruise last year with Royal Caribbean, and while that was enjoyable we thought we would check out a more refined/upscale experience with Holland America. It takes a lot for me to complain about something as I've spent almost the entirety of my adult life on active duty in the military, but even if I was a more discerning passenger, there isn't a whole lot about the Eurodam that I could complain about.
We had originally booked a VE guarantee, but when the room assignments were dealt out we were but in a V category stateroom which from I understand is an upgrade within the Veranda category of rooms. Needless to say, it was a great room for us, it was in the middle of the ship, on the 8th deck, directly under the Lido Buffet, but we didn't experience any noise or disturbances at all during the week.
Embarkation: We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before the cruise and stayed at the ExtendedStay America by the pier, I have nothing great to say about the place, but the location was good and it was a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. There was some confusion the next morning because I think just about everybody staying at the hotel that night were cruise passengers (there were 8 ships in port, one of them was the Oasis). There were tons of shuttles, people didn't know where to go, somehow we ended up on a shuttle, which we didn't reserve, but it got us to the ship. The embarkation process couldn't have been any easier, we dropped our bags off, were ushered inside, filled out a health form, we were immediately directed towards an empty station and within five minutes our pictures were taken and we had our cruise cards. The most time we spent waiting during the entire embarkation process was on the gangway to the ship because there was some kind of computer malfunction, but that was sorted out quickly. After we got onto the boat we were immediately ushered into the main dining room for lunch.
The Ship: The MS Eurodam is a beautiful vessel, HAL knows this and it's pretty clear they intend to keep it that way. Every time I turned a corner there was someone polishing brass, cleaning windows, or vacuuming. It's also pretty easy to navigate which is something I definitely appreciate. There are bars everywhere, I never had a hard time finding somewhere to drink, my only comment is that public bathrooms are at a premium, and aren't always easy to find. I do really like that Holland America seems to be staying away from the Mega-ship philosophy. I met an older couple in the airport after our cruise who were aboard the Oasis, and they told me that they didn't even see the other side of the ship because it was so huge. We also had a Retreat Cabana booked for the week. This was definitely worth it, we were away from the crowds, had our own space, didnt have to fight for chairs. The attendants were awesome, they were always around but not pushy, I was never without a drink in my hands.
Life Onboard: It's a little (much) quieter than what we had experienced on our Royal Caribbean cruise last year, which is exactly what I was looking for. It is true that the average age of the passengers is a bit older but this really didn't bother me at all. I'm 24 years old and had a great time with the people I met onboard the ship. Holland America also holds a Veteran's meet and greet which is really very nice. It was held by the ship's Environmental Officer who was an Army Armor Officer in the Piano Bar. We all sat around, told our stories and drank some adult beverages. As an Active Duty Naval Officer, it was awesome meeting those guys, hearing their stories of their time in the military, and just proud they are to have served our country.
Stateroom: Our Veranda stateroom was much more than I had originally expected, it was really very spacious, the veranda was was very big, and the bathroom was surprisingly big. The last few cruises I have been on the rooms were small and the bathrooms were even smaller, and I'm not exactly a small guy so needless to say I appreciated the space. The room stewards were incredible, they were non-intrusive, we barely saw them but it seemed like every time we left the room and came back, the room was cleaned.
Food: The Food was amazing everywhere we ate, the Lido Buffet, the Main Dining room, Pinnacle, Tamarind, Canaletto...I have no complaints, only compliments. The food at the Pinnacle grill was really phenomenal. My Rib eye, aside from being massive was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and although I really only wanted creme brulee for desert, my friend wanted everything, so she made me order it all...
Ports: Grand Turk was kind of a wash because it rained, hard the entire day. We got off the ship, walked around and got soaked for about an hour and then headed back to the ship and sat in the spa the rest of the day. San Juan was amazing, we went to El Moro Fort, and walked around the City the rest of the day. We wandered through the quieter part of town and found some cool shops/people/sights. St. Thomas we did pretty much the same thing as San Juan, we just wandered around. Eventually we got bored of this and hopped in a taxi and went to Meagans beach on the other side of the island. The beach itself was really nice but there were ton's of people and was a little claustrophobic for me. Half Moon Cay was in my opinion the highlight of the ports. The island is beautiful, the sand is as fine as baby powder, the water is crystal clear, it is paradise. I had read similar reviews on cruise critic before, but you really can't fathom how amazing it is until you are there.
All in all, I had a great time, I have nothing bad to say about Holland America or the Eurodam, keep it up, I'll be back.