It was another great cruise aboard Holland America. This time with a wonderful itinerary around Western Europe. The check-in was very easy. It took about 20 minutes if you used the internet to check-in. There was the usual obligatory photo before boarding with some back drop I didn't even notice. After that they had 2nd photo op with 2 show girls on either side of you. The only way you can get out of this is tell them you are in the witness protection program.
I found the Eurodam differed from the Osterdam and Westerdam as the decorating color scheme was more muted than the Vista class ships. But it's a beautifully appointed "Signature Class" ship with still the great layout of the Vista class ships. One major difference is the private spa cabanas around the pool area which is popular around upper end hotel pools now. Which I found annoying as you now have areas that are roped off and you cannot access. They actually roped off a key stairway to the front of the ship on the Lido deck. I feel if you are on the cruise you should have access to all public areas. I'm not sure how much these spas are utilized with the majority being retired. I’m thinking this is not the rock it until we dock it crowd that typically use these cabanas. Maybe Seattle will rethink this before they retro fit all their ships with these cabanas.
The ship has more flat panel video notice boards around the ship than their other ships. As always, the crew was busy keeping the ship clean and properly functioning. I even saw crew members repairing and revarnishing deck chairs. However I did notice two treadmills were posted as inoperative for most of the cruise.
The fire drill was a bit different this time too. Now you do not go to the drill with your life jacket on. The life jackets now have two basic clasps in front, making it much easier to fasten. Maybe that is part of the reason for dropping wearing them to the drill. Or someone tripped over the old ones with all the strings and filed a lawsuit. Probably a woman named Nora who creates havoc on cruise ships. Also they no longer checked all the passengers’ names at the life boat stations.
There was a departure in how the Lido food was distributed, as the crew handed you all the drinks and food on the buffet line. Again, it probably had to do with that woman named Nora who causes major viral outbreaks on cruise ships. They loosened this requirement after 2 days after there were no reported outbreaks, and Nora wasn't on the passenger manifest. When you first enter the ship you are whisked up to the Lido restaurant to wait for your cabin to be ready. At the entrance to the Lido there was a waiter with an industrial sized container of what I hoped to be alcohol based hand rub, doling out blobs of it on everyone's hands. He was grinning and greeting you as he did it. It could have been hydrochloric acid, but luckily it didn't burn and it smelt nice. The Lido seemed a little crowded at breakfast on port days about 45 minutes before report time for most major tours. But it quickly thinned out. Breakfast was excellent there with many choices offered. The alternative evening dining in the Lido was also quite good. The main dining room with open seating from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM was good for us. We were always seated immediately upon arrival. Food was ok, but the fantastic experience of dining and talking with the other passengers about the day's experiences and their background over shadowed the food. The Pinnacle Grill was praised by other passengers. The Tamarind Asian and the Canaletto Italian specialty restaurants were not as favorably rated.
The Veranda deck cabins are well laid out with plenty of storage space. There are two, 110 volt outlets, and two 220 volt outlets. A 220 hairdryer is supplied. Wi Fi worked in our cabin most of the time. The cost is 75 cents per minute if you choose pay as you go on the internet. If you sign up within the first 2 days of cruising and choose a package deal, you get up to 20 minutes included. There is a 100 minute plan for $55. You can now make a cell phone call from the ship without using the previous expensive satellite technology. You pay roaming charges, but using the Seamobile network you can connect as you do at home.
Shower tubs are spacious enough with the new bowed shaped shower curtain rod. They now have around 500 DVD movies available delivered right to your cabin at no charge. You do have to return the DVD within 72 hours to avoid paying the full price for the DVD. The cabin has a small DVD player. One passenger reported even though they ordered the DVD it was never delivered. But she said going to the front office to pick and return the DVDs was no problem. However, if you are eating every meal aboard you can probably use the exercise to pick up your own DVD.
Our cabin steward was excellent. He always seemed to know when we departed so he could slip in and make up the room. After over 20 years of cruising I still don't get the urge at home to convert my bath towels into zoological creatures before I turn in. Part of that could be I don't know how to do it. Otherwise I might feel the urge to do it for our guests who visit us in Las Vegas.
The entertainment was good. The singers and dancers provided some entertaining shows with great costumes and chorography. The song selections were varied and well delivered by the lead singers. The dancers were also particularly strong doing some amazing turns and flips. I thought the stage props and hydraulic stages were moved around too much in one production, which became a distraction. However in another production the props were very elaborate and well planned around the musical numbers. The magician was reported to be excellent, but I thought he was fair. The guitarist had a good voice, but the piano singer didn't. The Texas tenor, who did opera, blues and rock was very entertaining with great talent. But for most passengers this cruise was about the itinerary.
The fitness center was well equipped with 15 treadmills, 10 ellipticals, 5 upright and 5 recumbent bikes and a full set of fixed weight machines. A major complaint I have about all ship board fitness centers is the lack of large fans to move the air around, and no clock centrally located in front of the treadmills. With the fitness center operating hours of 6 AM to 9 PM, it's hard to work out if you have a shore excursion that day leaving at 8 AM. If you have to use the ship's medical facility, they have 2 doctors and 3 nurses. They are equipped with the capability to take a radiograph that will be digitally sent to the United States to be read, and laboratory panels that can be analyzed aboard. You might need to be prepared to struggle with an travel insurance carrier if you have to depart the ship for a medical emergency only based on what we heard from one passenger's experience who broke her arm in Rome. Also getting off a ship in foreign ports is not always an easy experience.
The shore excursions were well organized and coordinated by HAL with their number system. They numbered you to match the bus and tour guide. The numbered groups were kept small to be more manageable. We thought Portofino Italy, and Barcelona Spain was excellent ports of call. I could have passed on the Marseille tour, but the tour to charming Aix En Provence, 40 minutes from Marseille was fantastic. The Seville tour was perhaps the most disappointing. The tour guide had a heavy accent and spoke fast. She marshaled us around like we school children and even chided us if we strayed. I ended up at one point going to another shop when she asked us to stay in one location and made an unauthorized purchase of a large bottle of water. Luckily she didn't catch me. Some of our dinner companions said they had the same experience with their male tour guide in Seville. The palaces she took us to didn't meet my expectation of a palace. Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais were excellent, great tour guide, beautiful locations. The St Peter Port Guernsey stop for 6 hours in the afternoon I thought was an issue for a ship the size of the Eurodam. The ship had to anchor 1 mile from the small port and therefore the tendering process to shore was slow. It took about 2 hours to get everyone on shore. The stores and restaurants closed at 5 PM in Guernsey so there wasn't adequate time to do much. Also most of the tours were sold out on-line long before the cruise sailed as the port didn't have enough tour guides or possibly buses to meet the demand of this size ship. However, we were told many cruise ships make this port call now. The planners in Seattle should have skipped Guernsey and docked at Le Havre for 2 days so those going on a 6 hour round trip drive to Paris had more than four hours to see the city. The last day most of the passengers opted for the 10 hour Normandy beaches or the Paris tour. We elected the 5 hour Rouen, which was wonderful. It was a very charming historic city and we had an excellent guide. To save costs of the ship’s tours, most of these major cities had the hop on hop off buses that drove around the major sights.
Even though I have some criticisms of the cruise, the overall experience with this wonderful newer ship is first rate. I believe you won't regret this ship or this itinerary.