Our family of four (Mom, Dad, DD-20 and DD-15)chose this cruise on the Eurodam primarily for two reasons: its schedule (12/26 to 1/2) fit the school schedules and the ports were southern enough to assure that we would have warm sunny days that they wouldn't be having in our home in Pennsylvania. We had no prior experience with HAL; prior cruises having been with Royal Carribean and Celebrity. We used Cruise Critic to do background on the ship and the line and found that HAL has many loyal fans. Being a holiday cruise, the prices were definitely not low, but we used an internet tour service which offered significant on-board credit and also purchased 200 shares in CCL, HAL's parent company, and so received the $100 per cabin credit as shareholders.
We participated in the Roll Call for this cruise and gained additional information and tips. A special thank you to Tia Thomas and Meghan Mulholland, the events directors, who set up a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet less than three weeks before the sailing. They reserved us a large space in the Crow's Nest Lounge at sailaway - only the very GREATEST place on the ship! - with coffee, cookies and punch. The only thing I would have liked to improve the experience would have been to make the event better known, but there is no events bulletin board and we could not get on the daily events calendar (a policy thing, I think). Also, pier 29 where the Eurodam was berthed, was inconvenient for cab ingress and egress and we had some trouble finding the correct way in and depositing our luggage; luckily we corraled one of the HAL employees on her way somewhere else and she courteously helped us out.
We soon learned that the Eurodam's crew is primarily all Indonesian, trained by HAL abroad. They are helpful yet unobtrusive, and sometimes seem to be reading your mind, they are so quick to bring you what you need.
The food was uniformly good, with the formal nights featuring lobster and filet, just as you would expect. There was a different asian cuisine every day in the buffet, though I would say that the flavors were definitey toned down from what you would call asian home-cookin'.
One area which needs work is the Italian specialty restaurant "Canaletto". It is actually located in the Lido buffet area. Its short menu of Italian dishes is neither distinctive nor particularly good. There is no fee for this restaurant, but the main dining room is better. We used Any Time dining in the main dining room and had no trouble getting a table most nights. The one exception was New Years Eve, but the maitre'd merely gave us a buzzer and we waited in one of the nearby lounges for 15 minutes. The next day, a steward arrived with a written apology and a plate of chocolates!
Another distinctive touch of the Eurodam is tea served every day in the main dining room. There were two special tea events: a royal dutch high tea with a huge buffet and an Indonesian tea with HAL's selection of indonesian tea and coffee. A late night Chocolate buffet was also popular.
The public areas are small but they never felt crowded. In fact, although we sometimes had to wait in line here or there, it was never for very long, even during this holiday cruise with many families. One exception - the gym can be crowded. It is the minimum acceptable size for a ship of this size, but only that.
Our teen daughter participated in the teen club activities. The number of 15-17 year olds varied from 8 to 24. Although there were planned activities and games, they spent a lot of time - no surprise - just hanging out, especially in the Explorer Cafe, which occupies the the front observation area along with the Crows Nest lounge. This area has a coffee bar, internet, games and books in one multi-purpose area. It was equally popular with teens, families, singles, and seniors.
As for entertainment, the Eurodam had, besides the usual singers and dancers, a magician (James Cielen), an impressionist/musician (Brian G) and a juggler/comedian (Hilby the Skinny German Juggler Boy - yes, that's his name). While they were all talented, Hilby was the surprise stand-out. Some gentlemen sitting behind us groaned when he skipped out in his lederhosen, but he soon had them saying "This guy is pretty good" and later "This guy is great!"
The ports are described below, except for Santo Tomas de Castillo, in Guatemala. Santo Tomas is a container port; you will be looking at, hearing and smelling containers and contain-moving cranes. The men were fascinated! We took an excursion to Amitique Bay for horseback riding. The horses were docile and the grounds are very pretty. The beach is not very big or clean, however, and that is too bad because it is the only beach offered in the area. It is a nice resort, however. My husband and older daughter also took a cab into Puerto BArrios (another container port) with a local cab driver who once worked in the U.S. We were generally told that Guatemala is not safe, and they were happy to have the driver with them. It is definitely not a tourist friendly place yet.
Disembarkation was very smooth, with no trouble getting a cab to the airport even though at least six huge ships were disembarking too. A final tip: while waiting to disembark, go to the side of the ship and look down - you might see a family of manatees checking out the ship!