My husband and I are both young professionals who enjoy cruising. We are both well traveled and love trying new things, keeping in mind that we are also very traditional. We have cruised three times as a couple on Royal Caribbean, and while we've enjoyed our time with RCI, we were looking for something different for this most recent cruise. Our travel agent suggested we try Holland America and the Eurodam, and we had a fantastic time!
Embarkation was a breeze. We parked at an off-site lot, and were dropped right at the terminal, were through check-in and security, and on the ship in thirty minutes flat. Amazing!
The Eurodam is a lovely ship-- very classic with a traditional design. My husband found the layout of the ship slightly confusing, but I did not have any issues with finding my way around. Compared with the RCI ships we've cruised on (all Voyager class), the ship's interior spaces weren't as open as the central promenade, but this did not detract from our overall experience. The Eurodam's decor was elegant and understated-- we especially loved the Rembrandt reproductions in the stairs and the photographs in the halls. Our stateroom was located midships, and was easily accessed from the elevators. We found the stateroom to be adequate for two, and having a balcony is always nice (we never cruise without one!). I appreciated the extra closet space and moveable shelves! Shipboard entertainment was also enjoyable. We loved the shows on the mainstage, as well as the smaller trivia competitions and other classes like Tai Chi and golf chipping. Both my husband and I visited the spa for various treatments, and had a pleasant experience.
We thought that the food and meal presentation was where Holland America really stood out. The dinners in the main dining room were excellent: good selections for all courses, and the food was presented very artfully. We enjoyed dinner one night in Tamarind, and especially enjoyed the cuisine there; I would call it exceptional and a true gem. My husband and I also dined at the Pinnacle Grill for lunch. While the food was delicious (we both enjoyed the sterling beef tenderloin), we did not find the experience exceptional. We are both accustomed to fine dining experiences, and while the food was delicious, nothing about the Pinnacle Grill stood out as being truly unique. We found the wine and other liquor offerings to be well priced and competitive with what we pay on land. We also enjoyed being served in the Lido buffet for the duration of the cruise.
Service from crew members and staff was excellent. Small touches such as carrying my hot plate in the Lido from the buffet to our table were appreciated, as were the dining staff remembering my taste in hot tea. Our stateroom steward was very knowledgeable about everything regarding the ship and ports, and our wine steward was also wonderful.
Regarding ports of call, we enjoyed the beach in Grand Turk. I was not overly impressed with the island itself, but the cruise center was very well done, and the beach and water absolutely gorgeous! We enjoyed our time in the sun. San Juan, Puerto Rico was also very interesting; we've cruised before from here, but have never enjoyed the historic sites. Despite the rain, we managed to see both El Morro and San Cristobol forts, as well as the cathedral and parts of the old town, and made it back to the ship in time for dinner. St. Thomas, USVI was a total wash; it rained torrents of rain the whole day, and while we enjoyed our island tour, we could not get out of the safari truck to see anything because of the rain and fog! Half Moon Cay was beautiful; totally unlike the Bahamian beaches I've been to before. It was very pretty, and the beach easily accessed from brick-paved walks. My husband and I rented a clamshell for the day and sat comfortably on the beach.
Disembarkation was not as easy as it could have been, though this was not the fault of Holland America. We have always use expedited disembarkation on RCI and carry our own bags off the ship, so we did the same on HAL. Once we arrived at customs, there was only one customs agent for much of the time we waited, and finally just as we made it up to the counter, a second agent joined the first! It was annoying, to say the least. The driver from the off-site lot was waiting for us and took us straight back to our car, and without having to fill up the bus, which was much appreciated.
My husband's one complaint (and I promised I'd include this in the review) was that the ship's satellite TV switched too frequently between channels and did not carry major college football games. For example, the ship was broadcasting CBS for most of Saturday. However, when a major football game came on at night, the programming changed to soccer, leaving about fifty sports fans in the sports bar confused and a little peeved that the programming changed so abruptly.
In summary, we thoroughly enjoyed our time aboard the Eurodam. Despite HAL's reputation as catering to a more mature crowd, we were not the only younger couple aboard, and the ship's atmosphere and clientele was more what my husband and I are accustomed to being around. It was nice being on a ship with similarly like minded people, both young and old. The friendliness of the other cruisers was touching-- everyone was so nice, and it was very easy to engage others in conversation and share travel stories. Again, while we enjoyed our cruises with RCI, we will definitely add Holland America to our repertoire of cruise lines, and would cruise again on the Eurodam.