It may have been just as applicable to title this review “The Great Race to Florida” or “Retirement Home at Sea”. We embarked on October 6th in Quebec City for the 10 day cruise to Fort Lauderdale. The ship traveled at 20 – 22 knots on average and it felt at times like we were in a hurry to get to FL. Our fellow passengers were very pleasant and some of the nicest people we have cruised with so far. I expected an older crowd but was unprepared for the number of walkers, wheelchairs, scooters and canes we encountered on a daily basis. The crew did an excellent job with the elderly passengers and were very patient with them during the tendering process (3X).
I became familiar with the HAL board several months prior to the cruise. Unfortunately the Eurodam did not live up to our expectations. We have cruised on Celebrity (Solstice, Century, Constellation), Princess (Diamond), Oceania (Insignia), NCL (Jewel) and Avalon Waterways (Danube River). Our last cruise was on the Celebrity Solstice in 2009. We found it amazing that the Eurodam and the Solstice were launched only a few months apart. The Eurodam reminded us of a Sheraton Hotel while the Solstice is more similar to a W or Sofitel. Although initially the Eurodam décor was jarring and in some instances awful, it did grow on us during the 10 days. The best things about the Eurodam were our stateroom and the Tamarind.
1.Nice size VA AFT (stern) stateroom on deck 4.
2.The beds, as promised, were the most comfortable at sea.
3.Pillows were very fluffy and you get 2 each!
4.Side bed lights great & the night tables w/locking drawer useful.
5.Room safe was large, at eye level and locked easily.
6.The crew, with the exception of the front desk, very helpful & cheerful
7.Captain’s Cocktail party in Crows Nest was very nice. Good music, food.
8.Tamarind was beautiful and menu offered some good choices at dinner.
9.The fresh squeezed orange juice was a delight.
10.The flower arrangements were amazing throughout the ship.
1.Front desk –the most rude and unhelpful people we have experienced on a ship.
2.The décor – seemed outdated and tired for a ship only 2 years old.
3.The Exploration Café should be moved. Felt like an Old Folks Home with the people snoozing on the reclining chairs and the trivia game going on. Should be able to use a computer without having people snoring next to you or listening to trivia. Food and beverage selection was terrible. Café Bacio on Solstice is far superior.
4.Food in Lido was poor – we are not picky and this is the first cruise we could not eat in the lido.
5.Main pool area is not designed well as there is limited shade due to the lido cabanas.
6.Stateroom TV is very small and located far away and is hard to see.
7.Closet lighting is very poor. We had to select our clothing by touch because we could not see it.
8.Future cruise desk is located in the lobby among congestion. Should have a designated room or better area. Did not book a future cruise (FLL to Lima) after waiting 30 minutes as the cruise manager had only 2 minutes to talk. She had to go to the Mariner’s lunch. I could have returned but lost interest.
9.Internet service was a little slow but I am used to that at sea. What was awful was that once you logged on you started paying while you had to wait to connect to the Internet which could take awhile. You should only be charged when you are actually on the Internet. Sometimes we logged on but it took 10 more minutes to connect to the Internet. The Internet manager kept crediting everyone’s account.
10.Tea served on the ship was strange. Tea bags served except the Indonesian Tea where it was loose leaf in mesh bags. Food at Afternoon Tea was not so great. I asked at the Indonesian Tea if I could take some extra loose leaf tea for later and they said “no”.
•Do not to eat in the main dining room at a large table (10) as it took 3 hours.
•Do enjoy a mix of passengers but accept that HAL can be like a retirement home at sea.
•Don’t believe the Front Desk when they tell you everything “is fine” so when
you go back a few days later and are told "it is not fine and they never told you it was” you are not surprised. More info below.
•Do bring your own loose leaf tea as it is not offered on the ship.
•Don’t expect decent coffee in the lido. The main dining room had good coffee.
•Don’t try to understand why the specialty restaurants (Tamarind, Pinnacle and Cannaletto) are left half empty. They will try to tell you it is because they want to maintain quality or that the kitchen is too small. Perhaps a smaller restaurant would make more sense?
Eurodam 10 Day Atlantic:
As former Massachusetts residents we took this cruise to experience the fall foliage. A combination of a fungus affecting the Norway Maples, unseasonably hot weather, and Hurricane Earl impacted the leaf peeping. The foliage was muted and Earl blew what was left off the trees prior to our arrival.
Nonetheless, we did enjoy aspects of the cruise and thought our aft cabin (4187) was quite spacious and nicely laid out. The balcony however, was very small and not well furnished. As a non-smoker I was very worried about smoking on the ship. However, we never had an issue with it. Even walking thru the Casino was not a problem.
We ate most of our meals in the specialty restaurants. We ate in Tamarind 5 times (dinner 4 and lunch once, Pinnacle 2 times for dinner, Cannaletto once and one time we had pizza. We ate in the main dining room 2 times for dinner and also had breakfast there about 6 or 7 times. We did not enjoy the Lido buffet. Breakfast was abominable and lunch wasn’t much better. The eggs Benedict in the Lido was served on a roll and was just luke warm. The Eggs Benedict in the main dining room was much better.
One of our main reasons for booking the Eurodam was the Tamarind. Having tried Silk Harvest on Celebrity Solstice I was interested to make the comparison. Taramind was good but not as great as some of the posts would have lead us to believe. A lot of the dishes are more Indonesian, especially the sauces. The Szechuan Shrimp was thickly breaded and had a heavy tomato based sauce. It was more Cantonese and when the breading was removed the shrimp were very tasty. The Shrimp and Scallop dish is more like a Thai soup (Tom Yum Kha). I would recommend not ordering a soup first if you are going to order this dish. The best dishes were the Hainan Duck and the Satay appetizer. The duck was prepared crispy and the sauces were hoisin and a chicken broth. The satay was huge and came with peanut sauce and a Indonesian sauce but not the ususal fish sauce with onions and cucumber you get in Thai restaurants. The sushi was poor but that may because they changed the chef the day we ordered it. Service in Tamarind was excellent and the women that serve the guests are very attentive and pleasant. In our opinion Silk Harvest is far superior. You can also get smaller portions in Silk Harvest and share them among the table. In Tamarind, each guest is expected to order their own food and not share the dishes. Our last night in Tamarind we had the Rijstifel dinner. It was a lot of food and ok but I probably would not do it again. Actually we were told by the Tamarind Maitre'd that they will no longer be doing the Rijstifel Dinner.
The ship décor was puzzling. We were informed that there were two designers. One for the Tamarind area and another for the rest of the ship. It was very apparent. The majority of the ship seemed old and tired. It didn’t really look elegant. The metal sofas near each bank of elevators were ugly and seemed out of place. The loung chairs at the aft pool deck were chipped and need to be replaced. The Exploration Café and library has cheap looking laminate cabinets and is spaced strangely near the Crows Nest. There were a few features we liked besides the Tamarind: Oil lamps on the cocktail tables in one of the bars, the brass elevator art deco doors, the Rembrandt Dining room.
Went to one show of the Singers and Dancers. Could not wait for it to be over. It just went on and on and was not very good. This was not for lack of effort though. We enjoyed the movie “Date Night” that was screened in the Main Stage. We tried to watch a DVD on our room on the last day, but our remote did not work because the batteries had discharged and were now corroded. We tried using the DVD controls but that did not work.
I had two facials by different people, Erica first, then Jayde. The Oxydermy was better with Jayde. Erica was kind of new. Erica actually called me in my stateroom to find out what products I purchased from Jayde and then tried to sell me some including a serum for $175 I had already declined twice. I complained to the spa manager a few days later. Otherwise it was pleasant experience.
They were very helpful and wanted you to know their names so they could be recognized by HAL for their contribution. The Captain and Senior Officers were fine. Captain Darin Bowland seemed to be a little over confident though. We went through a white squall off the coast of Virginia. This was around 4:30 pm on the first sea day. The ship listed 5 degrees which does not seem like much but it was noticeabley tilted &the Captain came on the PA to address the passengers. They moved ballast and water to even out the ship. Apparently we were hit by a 72 mph gust of wind. The waves were not significant. At a session with the Captain and two officers he was asked about the ship following the squall. The Captain responded that the ship can take “anything” and that they run the ship for the comfort of the passengers. That sounded a little strange. I was going to ask about the Prisendam dented bow, flooded
lounge and broken windows but decided that would not be appropriate at this venue. The Captain is very nice, funny and also very tall!
We had serious issues with the Front Desk, especially with someone named, Wendy. My sister received permission prior to the ship sailing to make an onboard visit in Gloucester. I checked with the front desk when we boarded and after 10 minutes they said “it is all set”. When the day came for her to board the same person, Wendy said she never told us it was set and perhaps it could not happen. This was unnecessary if they actually knew what they were doing. It created a lot of stress and confusion. The security team was excellent and sorted it out. We had other issues with the Front Desk regarding the Canaletto restaurant and wanting to speak to the Hotel Manager. They just smile and act like they are being helpful when they are not. The Front Desk seriously impacted our feelings about HAL. It was not one person and I would be reluctant to deal with them again. I lived in Asia and am tolerant of other cultures but these ladies are unprofessional.
Most of the ports were new to us. Quebec City was fabulous and we had 2 ½ great days there. The Chateau Frontenac was nice but it was overpriced at $400 per night. We got upgraded to a water view room but I would probably stay somewhere else next time. Shopping in Quebec City was superb. Other ports not covered in the port section are included below:
Baie Comeau (Brain Mulroney’s home town) was windy and rainy when we arrived but we went ashore and took the school bus ride to the little town and walked around and had lunch which was very good (French pizza and a burger). We did see some whales when we got back to the ship.
Gaspe was a long day. We took the excursion to Perce Rock and Bonaventure Island to see the Gannets and Puffins. After a 20 minute tender it was an hour bus ride to Perce. From there we took the 25 minute boat ride each way to get to Bonaventure Island. Seas were a little choppy but we had clear skies and the wind was not bad. We circled the island and saw lots of birds and some seals. It was fun and we got some good photos. Pierre our guide was very helpful and explained a lot about the area. Perce wasn’t that interesting. I am glad we did not spend our day there walking around.
Gloucester was our last stop before our 2 sea days and arrival in FL. We got permission for my sister to visit the ship in Gloucester. As she lives just outside of Boston it was very convenient. There was some confusion with security on getting her on the ship. It took patience but it worked out. We visited the McCann Sleeper House. It was very interesting and we enjoyed the tour. The House was amazing. We then went to visit a friend of mine who has a shop in Gloucester and then returned to the ship for lunch at Tamarind. The Dim Sum lunch was not very Chinese. The salad was strange and the fried items seems more Indonesian. My sister had been on the Amsterdam and another HAL ship before. She liked the Eurodam and thought it would be nice to try.
Comparison with Celebrity Solstice:
Celebrity Solstice is a world away from the Eurodam. It is a beautiful ship with specialty dining venues and a modern vibe. It is also elegant in a sophisticated way. The pool areas on Solstice are very beautiful and much nicer than the Eurodam. The staterooms may be a little smaller but they are designed well and the bathrooms are fantastic. The interactive large screen TV’s (view account, photos, make restaurant reservations, etc) are wonderful on Solstice Class. The TV’s on the Eurodam are a step backward which I guess goes with the décor. The Front Desk, crew and officers on Solstice could not have been more helpful. Silk Harvest as mentioned above is also better than Tamarind.
HAL offers many interesting itineraries that you cannot get on Celebrity. That is the reason we tried it. However, I will probably look elsewhere for these more exotic itineraries. Our Eurodam cruise had some nice moments but overall I think we can do better and be happier on Celebrity, Azamara or Oceania.
Sydney, Nova Scotia was cold and windy upon our arrival. Very happy to take the HAL excursion to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum and Baddeck. Saw some nice foliate along the way. Our guide David was terrific. Very funny and knowledgeable. He talked a lot but it was never boring. Museum was just ok. Learned that Mr. Bell started his career in speech therapy and that his wife was deaf. If they can someday incorporate the private Bell home into the tour that would make it more interesting.