My last cruise on Holland America was in 2003. After 30 cruises, my favorite line is still Royal Caribbean, but I choose cruises based on itinerary and Holland America offered what I wanted this time. I had taken a New England/Canada cruise in 2009 on the Jewel of the Seas which was round trip from Boston and liked it very much. This cruise was similar with additional ports. Only two ports were repeated – Bar Harbor and Halifax – and both are ports I like so repeating them was not a problem.
The cruise left from New York City. We waited and waited for Holland America’s ground transportation. Princess and Carnival picked up all their passengers. Finally HAL’s bus arrived. There was a terror alert plus people were arriving for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 events and the freeways were at a standstill so the bus driver took us through downtown Manhattan, Times Square, and the Theater District on our way to the pier. Two ships (roughly 4,000 passengers) were going through port security and it took well over an hour to get through security and then we still had to check in at HAL which was almost another hour in long lines. In five cruises with them I have never had a good check-in experience with HAL.
Once on the ship things improved. The Eurodam, or the “Mighty E” as the staff calls it, is a beautiful ship. It is only three years old. It has a wood promenade deck that goes all around the ship. My cabin was an obstructed view mid ship in an ideal location and was very comfortable. The bathroom had a small tub/shower combination. My cabin stewards, Heri and Ari, were excellent.
There were 2054 passengers on board and 1300 were American. The rest were from all over the world, many from the U.K., Canada, Australia and Belgium. Almost 1000 were repeat passengers. There was a champagne brunch for repeat passengers and it was very nice. The food was excellent.
The food on the cruise was consistently good and sometimes excellent. There was a large selection on the Lido Deck for breakfast and lunch. They had an omelet station and even an Eggs Benedict station that offered four different versions of Eggs Benedict. There was an array of fruits and cheeses, including raspberries and huge blackberries. The breads, rolls and muffins were irresistible. The bread pudding with vanilla sauce is very good. Dinners included prime rib, filet mignon, beef tenderloin, lobster thermidor, lobster tails and sirloin steak.
The cruise line assigned me As You Wish Dining because there were several groups on the ship that got all the assigned dining. I did not like it because it meant calling for a reservation every day or standing in line at the dining room. Plus that I had a different table, a different waiter and ate with different people every night. The only good part is that I asked for a window table every night and got it.
There were three formal nights, but very few people dressed formally. I even saw jeans in the dining room.
We were lucky with the weather and only had one day when the weather was bad and that was the one sea day. There were 70 mile an hour winds from Hurricane Maria and the doors to the outside decks were locked for safety reasons. This ship rides very well in rough water.
The ports were Newport, R.I.; Gloucester, Mass., Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Saguenay, Quebec; and Quebec City. I thought all but Gloucester were interesting ports with Newport and Quebec City being the best. One suggestion I would make is to take the Hop On Hop Off buses in ports where they are available. They are less expensive than the ship shore excursions and one can sightsee at one’s leisure. I also took Oli’s Trolley in Bar Harbor and thought it was a better alternative to the ship’s shore excursion. The trolley can be booked on-line.
I’ve previously sailed on the Amsterdam, the Volendam and the Oosterdam. I liked the Eurodam best.