We have cruised 3 times previously with HAL and had the impression that standards have fallen in recent years. Eurodam is a lovely ship but carrying some 2000 odd passengers, she may just have been too big for us.
Embarkation was comparatively straight forward. We arrived at the port at noon. Having booked in an SC guarantee suite, we were entitled to priority checkin and embarkation. The only difficulty was an with authoritiarian HAL check in Lady not believing that the new immigration ESTA forms were 'on line' - warning us somewhat gleefully that we would have problems when we came to disembarkation which proved to be nonsense.
Once aboard, we found our own way to our cabin, (no one to direct or assist with the hand luggage) which proved to be a disabled stateroom. We had booked an SC guarantee which whilst nominally an SA, had a walkin shower, no whirlpool bath and a very small washbasin. The location was immediately adjacent to and overlooked by the panoramic external lift. Upon entering, there was a very strong smell of Fabreze which proved to be masking a strong smell of cigarette smoke. After several complaints, we eventually had to vacate the cabin whilst it was deep cleaned but this did not happen until the Wednesday. The cabin was very comfortable with a settee, 2 arm chairs, a desk area and the kingsize bed facing outboard which gave lovely sea views. The decor was sombre with dark wood paneling with brilliant red pillows to give a flash of colour. There was a small dressing room with a dressing table. The balcony was excellent with a round table and 2 chairs and 2 comfortable armchairs with footstools.
We had pre reserved a table for 2 in the main dining room and were located on a small circular mezzanine area accessed from the upper level. Our 2 stewards were attentive and helpful, as was the wine steward. However, we thought the room was charmless and overly lit with the ubiquitous
background music turned up loud enough to be intrusive. The food was inconsistent, some dishes such as the prime rib were excellent and some such as the jerk chicken were tough and tasteless.
We had booked the second evening in Tamarind, an extra tariff Asian restaurant which we thought truly outstanding in terms of food and service, so much so that we ate there for the rest of the cruise, except for one night when we had a disappointing meal in the extra tariff Pinnacle Grill. Tamarind has apparently won an award as the best extra tariff restaurant at sea - in our opinion it was richly deserved.
We lunched in the lido on a couple of days. There was a wide selection of dishes available which were perfectly acceptable, however the room is large and there is constant movement of people.
We ordered room service breakfast served on the balcony every morning and the food was hot and tasty, however on 5 of the 7 mornings, the order was either missing items, such as hot water for the tea or knives and forks, which was irritating.
There were 4 shows presented by 4 singers and 8 dancers and whilst the standard of singing and dancing was competent, the composition and song selection was baffling. There was a complete
mixture of songs from the 30s and 40s interspersed with some rock and blues. The whole simply did not hang together and was boring. The should be a clue for HAL in that there were never more than 100 or so people at the second show at 10.15pm and quite a few of those left during the show. On one night
there was illusionist who was very good. Entertainment on cruiseships has come a long way in the last few years and sadly HAL has been left behind.
Eurodam is well maintained but with quite restrained dark decor. There are lots of fresh flowers and the crew spent a lot of time cleaning. To our mind the best thing aboard were the retreat cabanas on deck 11 where you could rent a private cabana. The 2 stewards who serviced this area were outstanding and redeemed the cruise for us. If you enjoy sunbathing, I would recommend investing in one of these.
We had an enjoyable cruise in mixed weather. The Indonesian and Philippino crew were charming and in the most part very efficient. But for us Eurodam was a bit too big and noisy. I thought that she was like the Curate's Egg - good in parts. I do think that Holland America need to think hard about to who they are trying to appeal - these new big ships are crowded and more 'Carnival' than the smaller older ships. Not really for us!