We flew to Quebec through Detroit 3 days prior to our cruise to spend some time in the city and surroundings and were highly pleased with this decision despite costs of hotels in Canada. Be aware that commuter airlines which fly into Quebec city often cannot accommodate all of the luggage brought by cruisers..........ours was delivered the next day to our hotel so carry your necessities and a few undies with you as some people did not get their luggage until the first port!
Quebec is a beautiful city with international flavor that many will recognize as containing parts of Paris, the Provence, Ireland, Scotland and London....very hard to describe but quite memorable and worth the extra time to savor. We were fortunate to have friends in Quebec City that we had met on a cruise almost 2 years earlier so we had the benefits of tours by night, day and surrounding territory including Montmorency Falls from several aspects (don't miss).
Ports: Baie Comeau is reputed to be beautiful but all we encountered was heavy wind, rain and cold temperatures; so we did not get off the ship although some hardy types with raincoats, umbrellas and waterproof coats braved the Canadian fall weather we had been warned about.
Gaspe: much of the same poor weather but we did get off the ship and found not much on shore as did not schedule a tour (thankfully because of the weather).
Sydney: was our first port with no rain and it had a nice port facility with good internet connection and Celtic music performers in the background. Again did not stray far from port.
Prince Edward Island: Again if you do not go on a tour there is little to do around the port so consider ship tour or car rental as we have been on the island before and it is quite nice particularly on the Northern shore.
Halifax: been there before so we did not go to Peggy's cove but probably should have since our first trip was during rain from the hurricane (Ike that was following us as I recall) and my pictures show fantastic waves, dark clouds and rain but no sun from that earlier trip.
Bar Harbor: on this trip we took a local trolley tour for 4.5 hr all around the island and this was a great decision since we had already toured the town on a previous visit. Followed that up with a 2 lb lobster lunch for each of us and shared a table with fellow cruisers to expedite seating....remember this approach or you will easily wait over an hour at some of the most popular local restaurants if you need a table for 2.
Gloucester, MA: this was the highlight of the trip for both my wife and I and very unexpected. We had booked a local whale watching tour online for a very reasonable amount that included a discount for cruise passengers and saw many, many (>20) humpbacks swimming in pairs, triples and with calves and dolphins following the boat (major feeding areas for whales are located in this area it appears). We were quite hungry after the whale trip and the Lido had already closed for the day............so we decided to try the restaurant right by the pier the tender uses. I had what I considered to be the best haddock I have ever eaten in my life and wife agreed concerning her lobster roll (and we live in the OBX of NC where we always have fresh fish!). At a Mariner brunch the next day, another passenger said they had eaten at the same restaurant and HE had the best haddock of his life! Ft. Lauderdale: well as all cruisers know every trip has to end....but we decided to tack on 2 nights in Key West and 1 night back in Ft. Lauderdale after a leisurely return from the Keys. Do this if you have the time and you won't regret it.
The Good: The Eurodam is a beautiful ship for the most part with good new additions including the Tamarind and Canaletto dining areas. We dined at the Tamarind 2x for lunch and once for dinner and canceled a third lunch reservation because the choices are fixed and can get a bit boring (if you do not reserve early in the cruise you may not get in so plan ahead/reserve pre-cruise etc.). Overall the Tamarind food was good as we like Asian food but choices were very limited (fixed menu at lunch), service was a bit slow (particularly at lunch), the spiciness was excessive in some dishes (soups) and having red pepper flakes in your desert topping is going well overboard. Some fine-tuning in menus is required to get this from good to very good or great and more choices and quantity would be appreciated here. Did not dine at Canaletto but preparation of pasta and sauces in the Lido grill area did not appear very interesting despite menu descriptions. The dining in the Main Dining room was 5 star and up to what we consider typical HAL standards. I typically like the food in the Lido on all HAL ships because I am very selective about what and how much I take to eat. The Eurodam has perfected the "station" concept which eliminates a lot of the get in line mentality on other ships we have been on.
For Information Purposes in the Lido: For the first 72 hours of a cruise, HAL (at least in this first experience) appears to have initiated a policy of no self-service for health and sanitation reasons I was told. After 72 hours, passengers are allowed to serve themselves in the Lido food areas if there have been no incidents of "problems" sometimes afflicting crowded food areas and passengers that "forget" to thoroughly wash and sanitize their hands.
The Disappointing: There are some surprising dull spots on the Eurodam that are not typical of HAL. The colors in the main theater are really dull, drab and the design is truly disappointing compared to other HAL (or other line's) ships we have been on. Locating the library in the Crow's nest area is a downgrade in my opinion from the old design that kept it separated (and relatively quiet) from the activities at the bar, Trivia games, and specialty coffee area. The cabanas on the pool area outside the Lido and the "Sanctuary" area outside on Deck 11 is a poor idea in my opinion and another example of HAL's "new" (and possibly misguided) concept to make $$ take up a lot of useful space for the sake of a very few passengers; I did not see any of them used during our trip.
Crew/Staff/Service: Generally excellent in all aspects with a few glitches in room service. One morning instead of coffee we received a glass of water!! This was devastating to wife but easily solved since our cabin was only a short walk up the stairs to the Lido. Another morning after breakfast, we returned to find a large tray of food for 2 people..........that we did not order. The passengers that did order breakfast were likely as happy as my wife was with her glass of water. Gene Young, the Cruise Director, was Very Good and among the top 2-3 CD's we have had on our 10 cruises.
Overall: Good cruise, itinerary, service and food. Would do it again but probably on our favorite ship the old but glorious Maasdam following her 2011 rejuvenation.