We sailed on the Eurodam from 10/29 to 11/5 2011. We are both under 30 and took this trip to celebrate our fifth anniversary. We were told going in that Holland America's clientele is on the older side, and while this is true, it didn't affect our enjoyment.
EMBARKATION: The only accurate words are "quick" and "painless". We were on the ship in plenty of time to eat lunch in the dining room. Our bags were in our room when we first got there, and our wine/soda was brought shortly thereafter. Big props to HAL for letting guests bring cases wine on board. We saved tons of money by going this route.
CABIN: We were in inside stateroom I-8045. When we booked with HAL, were told that the cabin was one of the largest inside staterooms on the ship, around 284 sq ft. It was closer to 210 sq ft. However, it was very spacious with a table & chair and a corner couch. We were blown away by the amount of storage space. There were three full wardrobes that could be customized with foldable shelves. There were also two drawers under the bed as well as drawers in the nightstands and make -up desk. The bed was incredibly comfortable. The bathroom wasn't huge, but there was plenty of counter space and shelving.
When we first got to our room, there was a pretty significant vibration coming from overhead. When we booked our cruise, we looked at the ship map and noted that our room was directly underneath a Lido hot tub. We called the front desk to inquire about the noise and were told it was "navigation equipment" but after actually using the hot tubs & hearing the noise, we deduced that it was the source of our vibration. We honestly forgot about it within the first day, and hot tubs were closed after 10pm so it didn't disrupt our sleep. We didn't hear any other noise from the Lido deck.
SHIP: The Eurodam is beautiful. The decor is very tasteful & modern, and fresh flowers were placed around the ship every single day. The boat has two sets of glass elevators midship that provide gorgeous views as you travel between decks. The dining room is lovely, and well laid out. The bars are all cozy and comfortable. We generally went to whichever bar offered the Happy Hour (buy one, get one for $1). The theatre is beautiful with great sightlines.
We used both pools often. It's nice to have the Sea View Pool as an adults-only escape. There weren't many kids on our cruise, but I could see the advantage on a more family-friendly excursion. There are tons of deck chairs by the Sea View with very little shade, but they are a little scarce by the Lido Pool (more shaded options). The retractable roof on the Lido Pool is a brilliant touch.
DINING: Unfortunately, this was a little hit-or-miss for us. Royal Caribbean had better main dining room fare in our opinion. Some of the food was absolutely fantastic, and some fell flat, and there didn't seem to be a rhyme or reason as to why. We had some fish dishes that were prepared and seasoned perfectly (the swai), and some that was overcooked and flavorless (the salmon). Some meat was cooked exactly like we wanted (veal) while some was tough and almost inedible (the fillet). As other reviewers have commented, I think some of this can be attributed to the older clientele that HAL caters to (less seasoning). I also think they saved some of the best dishes for the last nights, so make sure to try Tamarind & Pinnacle earlier in the cruise.
Conversely, we ate at Tamarind and the Pinnacle Grill and both were fabulous. Everything at Tamarind had a bright, bold flavor. Even something as simple as a scallop consomme & chicken pho was absolutely fantastic. The Pinnacle had massive cuts of meat that were cooked to perfection (especially the lamb) and seasoned wonderfully. There was nothing that we ate at either restaurant that would merit the slightest complaint.
The Lido was not as disorganized as others claimed, at least compared to RCL's Windjammer CafÃ©. I will say that it was carelessly placed on the ship, as you had to walk through it to get from one pool to the other, hence the traffic issue. The food here was pretty good -â€“ try the crepe station, chilled salads, and also the international section that changed daily.
If you are into afternoon tea, make sure to take advantage of the specialty "teas" on sea days. The first was Royal Dutch, and the second Indonesian. They were both wonderful.
*GLUTEN FREE Note: One of us has to eat gluten free and HAL could not have handled this better. The menu for the following evening was provided to us so we could make our selections. Nothing was off-limits. Whatever we wanted on the menu, the chef would create a gluten-free version. In some instances, we might have gotten better food in the dining room, since those gluten-free versions were cooked "a la minute", rather than mass-prepared. HAL also had gluten-free pizza available at Slice that was actually better than the regular pizza. Big credit goes to Henk, the sous chef in the Lido Buffet. He personally walked us around the buffet and talked to the cook at each station to come up with options for a gluten-free lunch. That kind of personal services deserves to be noted.
DRINK: The bar staff on the Eurodam is fabulous & drinks good. That said, we were surprised by the limited offerings. When we sailed on Royal Caribbean, every bar had a different theme with different drinks to match. On the Eurodam, the menu was full but every bar had the exact same menu with the sole exception of the Silk Den. Prices were mainly $5.75-7.75/drink.
ENTERTAINMENT: Really, really disappointing. The shows in the main theatre were painful to watch. The singers & dancers were talented, but the production & song choices were just horrific. I'm sure there was a concerted effort to appeal to the older crowd, but trying to fit songs from the 30s and 40s alongside disco and soul numbers just doesn't work. There were 4 shows on the Mainstage; we sat through 1 Â½ because we were falling asleep. The band, Jenny & the HAL Cats, was okay, but they did a poor job organizing their set-lists, and often allowed the dance floor to clear out. The Piano Bar was fun and always packed.
The Culinary Arts Center is a little gem. We went to two cooking demos and enjoyed them both. However, we looked forward to the hands-on (fee-based) cooking class and NEVER saw it listed on the daily schedule. We were really upset about this & didn't realize we had to ask at the front desk about it.
ONE MAJOR COMPLAINT that we feel that anyone considering the Eurodam should know about. If you book the 8:00PM dinner seating, you will miss a lot of entertainment. While there is an early and a late show in the Mainstage, all of the "gameshows" and karaoke contests are held at 9:00pm, and there is no second offering. It is literally impossible to eat your meal and make it to one of these events. So, if you are interested in these cruise show staples, either book the early seating, or do the as-you-wish dining.
SERVICE: HAL has service down pat. Our cabin stewards, Ihlan and Aswani, were prompt, efficient, and friendly. Our dining room staff was prompt and attentive. Room service was always right on time, including when we asked that our Pinnacle Grill dessert to be sent to our room after dinner. Our drink steward, Joel, was almost superhuman in his attentiveness. He learned our names after hearing them once. Not only did he give us fabulous service at dinner, but he always seemed to find us in the Lido to get our order from the bar. Joel just seemed to be everywhere at once. This is one area of our cruise where any criticism would be unfair.
A NOTE ON HALF MOON CAY: Since HAL's private island isn't available in the list of ports to review, I'll include it here. The island is beautiful, the tender ride is short, and the beach chairs are plentiful. We did the horseback riding shore excursion, and it is not to be missed. We'd recommend waiting until you are onboard to book the excursion, because the price dropped about $30.
DISEMBARKATION: This was a delight. On RCL we were made to sit in the lounge for 4 hours. On HAL, we got up, had a nice breakfast in the dining room, and finished getting ready in our room before disembarking. Our disembarkation call was actually called 30 min early but we just got off the ship as soon as we could after breakfast.
OVERALL: Would we sail with HAL again? Sure, for a relaxing time. But I think we might try Celebrity or Princess next time. HAL doesn't offer rock walls or surf machines, but they offer wonderful amenities and all the comfort you could ask for.