We flew to Fort Lauderdale from Toronto on Air Canada one day prior to the cruise. Flight was good, on time and comfortable. We had booked The Holiday Inn Express on-line as they advertised free shuttle pick-up from the airport, and free shuttle to the cruise-port the next day. They provided good service and the hotel was clean and comfortable. I would feel comfortable staying with them again in the future.
Arrival at the cruiseport was a bit hectic. The Eurodam had arrived from her previous cruise a few hours late as they had had to rescue some people off a sinking private boat. Therefore they were late disembarking the previous passengers, and a bit late getting our cruise on. But other than that the embarkation process was easy and well organized.
On board we were directed to the Lido deck for lunch and to wait for our cabin to be ready. We were impressed by the choices of food available, and the friendliness of all the staff.
When we got to our cabin we were quite pleased. We were in a verandah cabin and it looked just like the pictures on the website. It was bright and clean, comfortable, nice bathroom - basically all we needed. It was kept spotlessly by our cabin stewards - they were like elves who came in and tidied then left before we saw them.
We were on the Anytime Dining option. As such, we just went to the dining room between 5-9pm ( I think). We never had to wait for a table. They would seat us with other people unless we asked to be by ourselves (once or twice). We enjoyed the chance to talk to other cruisers and learn a bit about their experiences. Most dinners were in the Rembrandt dining room on deck 2, but we also tried the Tamarind and The Pinnacle Grill. (extra charge). We found the food in all the restaurants to be top notch. The service was always good, polite and attentive. Some breakfasts and lunches we had in the Lido - again great.
Entertainment- we found there was so much to do on board, it was hard to decide what to do. We went to different talks, cooking demos, tours of the kitchens and of the mainstage, played in the casino (lost), saw the shows on the Mainstage, listened to different musicians in the various settings, went to the question period with the captain ( funny guy) etc. We loved the shows on the Mainstage - very entertaining and professional. The cruise director Jason was great- funny, friendly and wonderful at his job. Holland America better not let him go, as it would be a big loss.
We went on excursions at all ports - mostly short tours of the islands. We enjoyed them all. Half Moon Cay was a beautiful beach and we spent the day in the water and enjoying the barbeque the ship provides. A nice feature after we returned to the ship after our excursions, prior to getting back on was that there were a few employees handing out lemonade, ice water and cool damp towels to refresh yourself with. It was much appreciated and an example to us of their attention to detail and eagerness to please.
Disembarkation was a breeze. They ask your post cruise plans early on in the cruise and the last night they give you instructions and luggage tags. You put your luggage out before 1 am. The next morning they call your group (all colour coded to match your luggage tags), you get off and there is your luggage in the area they tell you it is! Very well done we thought.
Overall impressions: We thought the ship was beautiful, clean, comfortable and well organized. Staff was great. Food very good. What else you would want, i don't know. This was our first cruise, so I know I don't have anything to compare it to, but we loved it. I would definitely book again with Holland America - i can't imagine anyone doing it better.