We cruise with Holland America because of its tone. As seniors who enjoy quiet, contemplative moments as well as good companionship and the pleasures of travel, we find HAL to offer both in just about the right amounts. This was our first trans Atlantic cruise (except for a New York to Bremerhaven passage with our children many decades go) and the eight sea days out of Fort Lauderdale were one of the trip’s highlights. Bottom line: we enjoyed the trip and would do it again.
The Eurodam’s passenger complement of 2100 was larger than we’re used to, but it almost never seemed crowded. There was almost always ample space to pursue whatever activity we had in mind. The ship was immaculate and the service up to HAL’s well known standards. Our cabin steward was never under foot but always seemed to know when to move in and do his thing. We had the pleasure of meeting a dining room steward from a previous cruise and enjoyed his service.
All that said, we do have some criticisms of the Eurodam. (1) The casino straddles the entry way to the main theater on one deck, making it difficult to avoid both the smoke and the activity. We appreciate the importance of the casino to many passengers and to the company’s bottom line, but much prefer its being off to the side, as on the Rotterdam, for example. We also support strongly a no-smoking policy ship wide. We and several of our new friends suffered respiratory problems throughout the cruise due, likely, to the second-hand smoke that made its way far beyond the casino. Fortunately, HAL is surveying the smoking issue. (2) The library was smaller in relationship to the ship’s size than those on other HAL boats. Its position next to the Crow’s Nest results in a mixing of readers with nappers, to the disadvantage of the former. (3) While the HAL cast and stage band were superb – great young talent – the headline entertainment left a lot to be desired. The hammered dulcimer, for Pete’s sake, and a Liberace wannabe. Two lecturers on geopolitical topics were very bad – given 30 minutes of Internet and PowerPoint, I could have whipped up a lot better myself - and the piano bar guy really sucked. Couldn’t play; couldn’t sing. HAL should do better entertainment wise, as is, I believe, widely recognized.
We don’t cruise for the food and try our best to maintain a healthy diet on board. But we found food and preparation quality to be generally quite good. A dinner at the Pinnacle is still freshly and fondly in our memory.
The ports of call selection (originally 16 with Rome repeated) was a major attraction to us. To visit Greek and Roman history throughout the northern Med was a perfect trip. Unfortunately, Iceland's volcano resulted in a change of itinerary and the dropping of one port (Corfu) in order to accommodate passengers leaving and arriving, but the important stops remained. Quality of excursions and guides were at the mercy of the travel gods and, indeed, varied all over the lot, but we got what we came for for the most part, and will review only the most egregiously bad.