My wife and I, in our early to mid-60’s, are from Las Vegas NV. This was our 10th cruise; 3rd on HAL; and our 4th to Europe. We booked it last October to replace a cancelled river cruise due to medical issues. We loved the itinerary and bargain price for a “guaranteed” balcony cabin. The also gave us an opportunity for a pre-sail stay in Barcelona and post-sail in London. All three components of this trip were fabulous!
Pre-Sail Stay in Barcelona: We arrived in Barcelona for 3 days/nights in this beautiful and vibrant city. We stayed at the 3-star Sant Agusti Hotel just a few blocks from the Las Ramblas. Perfect location to access the features of this beautiful and bustling car/pedestrian boulevard full of restaurants, whacko street mimes, hotels, etc.. We were within walking distance to the Placa Catalunya and the marina. Decent hot breakfast buffet, small but clean room, helpful staff and quiet at night. Not a palace, but certainly commodious enough for a short stay. Hotels on the Las Ramblas are generally very noisy at night since the natives eat late and party even later.
We used Hop On-Hop Off Buses for transport to more distant places (the Metro subway is cheaper, but not as fun). Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Pedrera are must see things as well as The Cathedral…all amazing. And, don’t miss the huge La Bouqeria Central Market, on the Las Ramblas, a few blocks from our hotel. Wow! Everything in the way of fresh veggies, meats, fish, flowers, etc. Don’t leave the city without trying tapas and paella. A 10-12 euro cab ride gets you to your ship.
The Eurodam-In General: Just beautiful! Not too big; not too small. It seemed very roomy. Spotlessly clean. Public rooms are plentiful, sizable and the décor is very pleasing. Fine art and fresh flowers in/near midship public areas. Nice touch. Elevators were generally not crowded; and the deck layout made it simple to get around to all areas. Lots of walking to/from, but the ship somehow seemed smaller than the passenger complement would suggest. There were 1,850 on board vs. 2,100 maximum.
Embarkation was a snap. We were early (11:15) and waited about 20 minutes for a counter call. A quick ID check, a ship card and we boarded 15 minutes later. A very organized, pleasant experience in a comfortable terminal.
Demographically, we were in the mainstream. Largely age 50-70+ couples with previous cruises under their belts. Most of us were from the US, Australia and Canada with a sprinkling of Asians and Philippinos and a smattering of Europeans. The officers are mostly Dutch and German, with the visible service crew coming largely from Indonesia and the Philippines. Altogether, an “international mix” of people, which we always enjoy. Now to more detail:
Stateroom: The “guaranteed veranda cabin,” which is always initially assigned in a less desirable location on lower decks for early bookings, usually results in an upgrade…that’s how it is done by the cruise lines. We received our (upgraded) veranda location on deck 6 starboard near the forward elevators. We usually book specific staterooms, but this turned out well, so we may do this in the future and save some money. Our cabin was richly decorated, functional and comfortable. Lots of storage area; a balcony with nice rattan chairs; a comfy bed; and a good sized bathroom with a big tub shower. Nicer digs than we remember from the Oosterdam a few years back.
Public Rooms: All (and we were in all of them) of these areas were expansive and comfortable; and the décor was sumptuous in most. Again, even on sea days, these areas seemed oversized and never crowded. Lots of bars/lounges too…and we had favorites.
Dining: In general, our food experience was quite good. Although we intended to, we never made the Rembrandt Dining Room for breakfast or lunch. The Lido buffet was quite adequate…lots of variety: Eggs to order, omelets, tasty pastries, fruits, cereals, etc. If you can’t get a good breakfast out of that, then you have a problem. Same thing at lunch time. Some food was overcooked, but there was always something else. It was crowded at times; but these were the times one would expect crowds. Actually, the lines moved pretty quickly considering all the diners; and tables were available. Our shore excursions dictated some very late “lunches,” so we hit the Lido Grill near the main pool area for quick bites. The burgers & fries were great…the hot dogs not so much.
We had 5:30 pm fixed early dinner seating on the mezzanine of the Rembrandt for the first half of the cruise. A bit loud and a little too early, especially considering some all day excursions. So, we switched to open seating on the main floor. At 6-6:30, we were accommodated at tables for two and six. This worked well…never a wait. We may opt for this on future cruises. The food was good to very good. The beef dishes and lobster were quite good. The variety of offerings we’ve seen on past cruises was somewhat lacking. But, my wife never ate a dessert she didn’t like.
Our three dinners (two in the Pinnacle Grill) in specialty restaurants were superb and well worth the extra price. Prim and fancy in the Pinnacle; and their beef and seafood dishes were outstanding. The Tamarind, the Asian fusion restaurant on the top deck, served more exotic fare; all good…especially the duck. Glad we did this!
Entertainment/Activities: We somehow don’t get around to watching the theatershows after dinner. We usually did the photo gallery and walked the promenade deck. Being from Vegas, we may be a bit picky. We left Basilio’s (the comedy magician) show after 5 minutes! Spent more time in the jewelry store than I wanted to. No spa time, no other organized activities per se…this trip was about ports and excursions.
Ports & Excursions: Overall, our experience was quite good, with the exception of one disappointment and one big flop. All were ship excursions. Quickly, here they are:
Gibraltar Highlights: Short, two hour tour. Very worthwhile. The Barbary Apes were the hit! Amazing scenery. The 4-minute walk from downtown back to the ship, per our tour driver, took about 30 minutes.
Stunning Seville (Cadiz): Overall, a good, thorough tour. All day deal with a too-quick buffet lunch at the Macarena Hotel. Seville is really beautiful and clean. Got to see some old-town sections and a variety of churches, monuments and other features along the way. Lots of walking, but so worth the effort. The downfall(s): No free time; and an extremely knowledgeable guide who never quit talking!
Lisbon-River City on the Tagus: This was a bust: A short drive around Lisbon and a 90-minute ride on an old 40 passenger 3-masted boat. However, there were 3 bus-loads! We, and others, had to stand in aft area outdoors amongst the rigging breathing gasoline fumes while viewing the same shore features we had just gone past on the Eurodam. The guide’s narrative could only be heard by those lucky enough to be under roof on the main deck. I filed a formal complaint back at the ship, and we will be receiving 50% refund of the cost of this overpriced dud.
Lisbon-Medieval Obidos: Very worthwhile tour in this quaint, ancient city, with free time to meander.
Strolling Pontevedra (Vigo): Nice tour of the old town, its churches, squares and public market. Free time to browse and hit a sidewalk café.
Saint Mere Eglise/Utah Beach (Cherbourg): Enjoyed the unstructured tour of this historic D-Day town and as well as the Utah Beach area and surrounding countryside.
Romantic Bruges: Wow! This place is just exquisite! Good tour and lots of time to amble around this incredible medieval city. A great canal ride too. The best excursion!
Service and Staff: Every crew member we dealt with was just outstanding…super customer service. All were courteous, helpful and cheerful. Our room stewards, Iwan and Gede, were exceptional…oh, those towel creatures. HAL should be very proud.
Disembarkation: Smooth, easy, efficient. Couldn’t be any better.
Post Sail Stay in London: We traveled from Dover to London in a private van with four of our Cruise Critic friends. Stayed at the Crown Plaza St. James for 3 days & nights. Great old hotel; comfy room; gorgeous courtyard/garden area; excellent service staff and concierge; very tasty breakfast buffet; and perfect location. We highly recommend this 4-star hotel! We were just 4 blocks from Buckingham Palace (while Obama was there), and Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben were within walking distance. The HO-HO bus and a few cab rides took us to many other fabulous places, and we did the cruise down the Thames. Harrod’s was also a highlight. What a store! “The Albert” and “Feathers” pubs served yummy food. We also got to chum around more with our new CC friends Howard and Phyllis. Needless to say, we loved our stay in London.
Cruise Critic Comment: Thanks, cruisecritic.com for being there for all of us cruisers. The ship reviews, news, boards, etc. What a great service you provide. With your help we have met many new people and made new friends on this and previous trips. And thanks to LV Sue for organizing our successful Meet & Mingle on the Eurodam!
In summary, our whole trip was just fantastic! Our Eurodam cruise was wonderful. Yes, there were a few minor hiccups. There are at least a few on any cruise. Given the right itinerary, we would definitely sail the Eurodam!