Baltic Sea. June 29 - July 9
This was our third cruise, all three with HAL. My husband is 48 and I celebrated my 50th birthday onboard. This was our first cruise on the Eurodam and we were not disappointed.
Pre-cruise we were lucky enough to hook up with some fellow cruisers on Cruise Critic and were able to join with them for a private tour in St Petersburg. Nothing against HAL or their excursions as we did use their services for an excursion in Kiel, Germany and it was lovely. But the difference between a private tour for 8 people with our own guide and our own minivan (which frankly I wish had had a better working AC) and being with 80 other people on a giant bus waiting in long lines was HUGE. I highly recommend going the private tour way for people going to St Petersburg. With a special nod to the Anastasia Tour Company, ask for Elena to be your guide - she was fantastic!
Back to the beginning - as the boat was embarking from Dover my husband and I decided to spend 4 days in London prior to making the trip out to Dover. Had a great time sightseeing and found a nice hotel near Victoria Station that had AC in their rooms. As we seemed to have hit London during a heat wave we were really glad to be able to go back to our blissfully cool room at the end of a long day of sightseeing. Premier Inn, Victoria Station.
We took the National Express coach out of Victoria Station the day before embarkation as I wanted to be in Dover the morning of embarkation, not traveling. Stayed at a lovely B&B called the Hubert House and had one of the best meals of the entire trip at La Scala, a nice walk's distance from our lodgings. Highly recommend! The coach out to Dover is by far the cheapest way to get there - it was £11 total for me and my husband, but if you are traveling in the summer be aware that the buses are not air conditioned. Yah, it was a long 90 minutes lol.
Embarkation was a breeze, we got to the very nice, clean terminal in Dover at around 11am, there were virtually no lines, breezed in, filled out our forms, took a seat and waited maybe 45 minutes before our color was called for boarding. Walked on board the Eurodam and took our time wandering around for a bit before heading to the Lido for a bite to eat. Although we still hadn't heard the announcement that the rooms were ready for us to occupy, we snuck over to the room and took a chance - and it was all ready and waiting for us. We dumped our carry ons and felt a little guilty for being in the room before it was official so we left and hung out in the Retreat Cabana that we had rented for the cruise. We loved our Retreat Cabana! Iver our steward was fantastic, always there with a smile and an offer of food and drink. We were in a Spa Suite on Deck 11 right outside the Retreat Cabana area as well as the Crow's Nest and the location was absolutely perfect for us. I really enjoyed being so close to all the action and not having to make the long trek from a room midship and on a lower deck. Noise was never a factor, we never heard a peep besides the night the Pub Crawlers rather rudely yelled and screamed their way into the Crows Nest. They were pretty loud but thankfully gone within 30 minutes. Because the Spa Suites have much smaller balconies we decided to book a Retreat Cabana and really enjoyed being able to relax with all that room and the fantastic views. I only wish there had been more sea days to take advantage of the surroundings. And I was shocked that so few of them were booked. They are worth every penny. HAL was also very accommodating when I was organizing our Cruise Critic meet & greet, they gave us our own space in the Crows Nest and provided sinks and snacks. Our fabulous cruise director Jason came by and a good time was had by all except for me who decided this was the perfect time to get sea sick for the first and only time in my life. Oh well!
There were very few negatives so I will list them quickly here - the first was no fault of HAL's it was our own fault for not thinking through the time or year we took this cruise. Our first two cruises were during the school year and there were barely any kids on board. This being a summer cruise I did not take into account just how many kids and teens would be onboard. Because HAL's ships are smaller and not really geared towards entertaining kids a whole lot, it turned out to be an issue in terms of the monopolizing of the pools - basically it was nearly impossible to get any swimming or hot tubbing in as the pools and jacuzzis were always filled to capacity with kids. Screaming kids. Don't get me wrong, I like kids and don't blame them for having a great time swimming - but as there are just not that many other places for kids to be on HAL ships, it was disappointing that it just left very little time for adults to get some peaceful pool time in. Even the so-called adult pool at the back of the ship was jammed most of the time as well. We also had a meal at the fantastic Tamarind Restaurant almost ruined by a family who brought their 4 yr old to dinner and didn't think it was necessary to discipline their kid and keep him from screaming and yelling while the rest of us were trying to enjoy our meal. This went on for over 30 minutes until finally the mother took him away. And of course they were at the table right next to us. I really think that in the specialty restaurants there should be a minimum age set so people don't have to endure that kind of rude behavior, especially when you are paying extra money to eat there. So from now on we will try to schedule our cruises during the school months if possible. My only other major issue was I think the curtains that cover the sliding doors that lead out to the balconies need to have better black out capability. This might only be an issue on this type of cruise where there is 20 hours of daylight per day and possibly only in the Spa cabins where the bed is situated right next to the door that leads to the balconies, but the constant sun coming in through the door was not sufficiently blocked by the curtains they had, making the room much much warmer despite the AC and preventing good solid sleep.
Besides those two issues, I loved the Eurodam. The ship is gorgeous and easy to get around, the staff was amazingly helpful and friendly. We didn't do much in the way of shows, we went to a couple of the game shows and played team trivia (go Vanburchesters!) played a little poker, watched some World Cup soccer, but besides that we mainly relaxed at the cabana, ate all our meals either at the Lido or at the Pinnacle Grill or the Tamarind, hung out with some new friends etc etc etc. Internet access was pretty slow and expensive so we used it sparingly and tried to find places in ports where there was free wifi, which we were successful at in Talinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. I threw my iPad in my purse and it was no problem!
Disembarkation was also easy, we chose our time, went down to the Lido for breakfast and then hung out on a couch till our color was called. Waited in line for a taxi in Copenhagen for about 20 minutes and we were off to our hotel. We also recommend the Adina Apartments Hotel in Copenhagen - near the pier, they have a bedroom, living room, mini kitchen and best of all a washer/dryer in the bathroom! We did all our laundry before we headed back to NYC which was a great way to start the last week of our trip, with all clean clothes....
All in all it was a terrific cruise, a great ship and still our favorite cruise line.