This was our third cruise, second with Holland America. Booking was directly through Holland America's website, only 10-weeks prior to departure. Assigned dining wasn't available.
The ship arrived an hour late which delayed the start of boarding by about 90 minutes, to a new start time of 1:00 PM for a 5:00 PM sailing. We arrived at 1:00 PM to find what was an intimidating long line of passengers that extended out from the terminal, around the driveway and out onto the Port's main access road. Despite its size, the line moved steadily, and the total time to board the ship was only 65 minutes.
I was disappointed that upon boarding, this ship didn't offer any type of formal greeting by an officer, or the customary champagne greeting, as I have had on other cruises. Rather, guests were simply herded to the elevators. Eurodam really needs to work on its "first impressions" for embarking passengers.
My friend and I were traveling singly, in adjoining staterooms (no discount on single occupancy). We were in "VH" Deluxe Verandahs #712X. These are the smallest balconies, near the stern. We were delighted to find that despite the ship's late arrival, our staterooms were fully prepared. Before our baggage arrived (90-minutes after sailing), I gave the stateroom a complete inspection, and am pleased to report that everything was in good order, even after 40-months of use.
The linens, pillows, duvet, sofa, side chairs, and drapes were in good condition. A check under the bed did not reveal any dust bunnies, or similar. I did find some stains in the carpeting at the bathroom door, but these were not significant. The bathroom was clean and everything was in good order. There was some evidence of "repair caulking" having been applied between the shower wall and the tub. The lighting and air conditioning all worked properly. The Verandah furniture, decking, railing and ceiling were all in excellent condition with virtually no rust spots.
One major problem with our staterooms; there aren't any clocks! Not only does the room lack a clock, but there is no time function on the phone. Additionally, the clocks throughout the ship, principally in stair wells, aren't synchronized. Differences of up to 10 minutes were found between clocks.
The Eurodam is a beautiful ship that is being lovingly maintained. There are many different quiet places to escape on Sea Days or busy evenings. A delightfully quiet retreat can be found in the "Silk Den" lounge on Deck 11, mid-ship.
While busy during breakfast and lunch, the Lido Buffet does a reasonable job of handling the hoards of guests, particularly during the first two-days, when self-serving isn't permitted. The bus staff is a bit overworked, but still is able to promptly clear tables. Occasionally, they even had time to serve beverages. Food quality and variety are comparable with a "better quality buffet" on land. Menu items showed good variation during the week.
The first night we dined at the Tamarind, "Asian Fusion" restaurant. Service was impeccable, but I cannot recommend the food. We both found the seasoning of the entrÃ©es rather bland (baked pompano in rice paper, and seafood hot-pot). In contrast, the chocolate mousse was incredible! Overall, while I am an avid fan of Asian cuisine, and despite the hard work of the talented Tamarind wait staff, this restaurant's food was disappointing. We cancelled our reservation for a second night.
Pinnacle Grill is the upscale dining venue on all Holland America ships. However, its implementation on Eurodam has a significant problem. About 20% of the seating looks out on to the main atrium staircase and bar. Initially we were seated in this area for a 7:00 PM reservation made two months before departure. The noise level from the adjacent atrium bar was unbearable! Unless your idea of an intimate dinner is to have the backdrop of a karaoke bar, you should refuse to be seated in this outer area of Pinnacle.
Overall, the Pinnacle menu on Eurodam was standard Holland America, which was implemented on a competent basis by an attentive wait staff. The ambience isn't exceptional, unless you enjoy florescent backlit pseudo Baroque period art, but it is worth the $25 up-charge for at least one dinner.
Le Cirque, is a special night at Pinnacle Grill, wherein a few entrÃ©e's from Le Cirque are offered for a $35 up-charge. Having dined several times at the real Le Cirques' in New York and Las Vegas, this is a reasonable attempt to capture the feel and taste of those venues. Overall, Eurodam did a good job with this "franchise". I recommend the Lobster appetizer, and the Alaskan Cod. The "Chicken Under Brick" while tasty was a bit tough and slightly dry. The desserts are excellent, and a small modification to the Chocolate SoufflÃ© recipe for cruise ship vibrations still produced a light and puffy delight. (Overall, our favorite was the "Squash with Huckleberry Soup", because of its unique contrasting flavors and textures).
We ate four diners in the Master Dining Room, under open seating. The selections were innovative, one night three of seven entrees were vegetarian. We are Omnivores, and one of us ended with the vegetarian the other red meat. We both agreed that the food was quite tasty, well presented and special requests at group tables of six to 10 were promptly filled. In general, we heard satisfaction from our assorted dining companions.
The shows were of reasonable quality, and about what you would expect on a 2,200 passenger ship. The main showroom is well designed and utilizes traditional theater seats instead of the "cabaret" seating that is found on many other ships. The performers were talented and worked hard. Staging is amazingly complex as a result of an extremely sophisticated multi-platform series of elevators and a turntable. The programs were varied and as the week went on were increasingly entertaining and complex. The magician was the best we have seen on a cruise ship.
The Culinary Arts theater offers numerous cooking demonstrations, many with samples. I opted for the 3-hour, $150 behind the scenes tour. From engine room to bridge we saw it all, with potions of the tour conducted by the Captain and the Hotel Manager. If you have a fascination with the detailed inner workings ships, then this tour is a must. Others may find it boring and somewhat over-priced.
This is a standard Sea & Sun itinerary, so ports have to be evaluated on that basis. The final day at Holland's private "Half Moon Cay" is by far the best. While this is a "tender port", Holland keeps large, open, 200-person launches in the port, so that transfer to land is rapid and efficient. If you seek private tranquility, it is available in large quantities here. Either walk or have the "Tram" take you up past the last cabana, about a half-mile up the beach.
Disembarkation was smooth and efficient. We elected for a 9:30 AM departure. Around 9:20 AM, our number was called and we proceeded swiftly off the ship. Our baggage was waiting on the pier and the line for Customs & Immigration moved very rapidly. Only 25 elapsed from the time we left our stateroom, to hailing a cab for the airport.