Just returned from my first ever cruise aboard the ms Eurodam (12/10/11 sailing). This was a family cruise with my mother and three sisters (and spouses - 5 couples). The weather was perfect all week and found the cruise experience to be fascinating.
Since I had never cruised before I started my research (I am the type of person that wants to know what I am in store for)around June 2011 when I found the Cruise Critic website. In the six months leading up to this cruise I visited this site almost daily and learned all I could about ships and what to expect. You very rarely have to ask a question, because anything you want to know is there if you look for it.
On the day of the cruise, I had about a 3 and 1/2 hour drive to Ft Lauderdale (live in Florida). I left early so I would arrive by 11:00 AM and would be able to board as early as possible. Since I was driving in I was responsible for bringing wine and soft drinks along with all of our other luggage. I was in such a hurry I forgot my suit (I was going to carry this on in a garment bag)and had to turn around and get it. This put me about 30 minutes behind, but was not a big deal.
I found the Embarkation/Disembarkation with HAL to be very smooth and painless. Once we were through security, we had to wait approximately 20 minutes, to board but this was no big deal at all.
I chose to Disembark late (between 9:00 and 9:30 AM). I don't think I will do this again. We ate early in the Lido on the final morning and since the room stewards wanted to clean our room, we had to sit in the Atrium lobby waiting for our time to be called.
The Eurodam is a beautiful ship and the Public Rooms in my opinion were well decorated, comfortable and clean. I spent a lot of time in the Crows Nest and Queens Lounge, but explored the entire ship and was very impressed by the decor and cleanliness of this ship.
I was in Stateroom 5105 which is a Deluxe Verandah Outside cabin. The room was outstanding. It was close (but not too close) to the elevator and very clean. The bathroom was larger than I anticipated and the shower was great. I loved the Verandah which had two chairs and a small table. There are life boats just below this floor of staterooms, but this balcony was located between life boat 11 and 13 which provided a great view all the way down to the water.
My sisters were in the cabins on each side of me (we had four in a row). My sister asked that they open the panels separating the cabins (which they did the first day). This was great, as we could sit out there an chat with each other.
I used the fitness room 3 times. The treadmills were exactly like the ones at my home gym and I liked them. I am an avid running and was looking forward to getting up every morning and exercising while looking out at the wide open sea. What I found out though, was that I had a serious balance problem trying to run on the treadmill while the ship was moving. After that first mornings difficulties, I decided I would only run when we were in port, so I did not get to exercise like I had hoped.
We had dinner in the MDR 5 nights, the Pinnicle one night and the Canaletto one night. The food was outstanding in every venue every night. Our server in the MDR (he called himself "Number One") did a great job all week.
The Lido Buffet was my least favorite place to eat and I agree with what has been commented on before that it is not laid out properly and makes it difficult to maneuver, find what you want to eat and then find your party while you carry your food. We ate breakfast and lunch in the MDR on a number of days and enjoyed that very much.
I am in the minority here (most of my cruise companions and DW disagree) but I thought the entertainment was good. I went to two shows with the singers and dancers, saw the magician and the comedian and all were good in my opinion. I especially like the comedian Derrick Cameron.
We went an watched Karaoke on two nights hosted by DJ Alex in the Queen's Lounge. All did a great job and some contestants provided as much as humor as any comedian.
The service on this ship was first rate in all areas. Our room stewards Sugi and Nyoman could not have been nicer. I was up very early and walking around the ship, and every single person I came in contact with greeted me with a friendly hello and a smile.
Grand Turk - Rented two golf carts from Nathan to tour the island. A long walk from the ship to just outside the main gate, but we had a lot of fun.
San Juan - Took an air conditioned tour for $10 per person (driver Miguel) Well worth it and very interesting. We also had fun shopping in Old San Juan.
St. Thomas - Took a 2 and 1/2 hour air conditioned island tour (driver Thomas -very funny). this tour was very interesting and we took tons of pictures (views were gorgeous). This was my favorite port.
Half Moon Cay - rented a Clamshell and sat on the beach. Living in Florida, I am used to the beach experience, so I have to say this was just okay for me (nothing special). I did not care for the BBQ lunch that was provided (only negative food wise issue all week)
I listened to Captain Darin Bowland during his Q&A session and found the information related to the cruising and the ship to be fascinating. I really loved my time with my family on the ms Eurodam.