This was our second cruise and our first in 12 years. We chose the HAL Eurodam due to its ports-of-call and overall rating. We traveled with our three sons whose ages range from 22 to 15. We had a great time due to HAL, the weather, and the destinations.
We stick close together as a family so our kids didn't take advantage of the youth programs. Our main activities on the boat consisted of eating, going to the shows, playing shuffleboard on deck 3, and playing games in the Explorations Cafe on the upper deck. The quality of the entertainment was great. In addition to song and dance, there were excellent comedian and a magician shows. We didn't use the pools or pool areas at all but got our share of water on the excursions. The Explorations Cafe/Crow's Nest were popular spots without being overcrowded. My wife and I attended one fun cooking session in the Culinary Arts Center and one historical presentation. Although we didn't take advantage of many enrichment activities, the ship provides a full range of activities from morning through the late evening.
You will not go hungry on this ship. Although I can't compare the food to other ships, HAL gave me more than I expected. We mostly ate in the Rembrandt where the meals, especially dinner, were very good. (You won't go wrong if you stick mostly to the Rembrandt.) We ate in the Italian Canaletto once where the food was good but not exceptional. The Lido restaurant was a typically crowded buffet but it was convenient when we were in a hurry and the food was decent.
There were several high teas at 3 PM which we didn't need to go to, but we took advantage of them to eat even more. There was also one major dessert buffet at 11 PM, and you could usually get late-night snacks in the Lido.
We had good experiences with all four ports of call, and fortunately, the weather was on our side. Grand Turk is a rather impoverished island but the cruise terminal is very modern and hopefully provides good revenue to the island. Old San Juan was my favorite and is a great place to spend the day. We've been to St. Thomas and St. John before, but you can't go wrong with another visit to the Virgin Islands. Finally, Half Moon Cay was a great place to spend the day.
Service on the ship was excellent. We interacted with dozens of the ship's staff and did not have one unfriendly experience. Our room was kept clean, and we had no problems with sheets, towels, etc. Be advised that many of the staff do not have a good command of the English language. This could be frustrating at times especially if you're trying to communicate important or critical information as we needed to. If you have special needs such as dietary requirements, I'd recommend bringing information in writing and be as detailed as possible. We've been told that HAL generally attracts an older clientele. On this Christmas cruise, there was a great cross-section of ages; everyone from babies to seniors, and there were many inter-generational groups. Although we did most things as a family, there are plenty of opportunities to meet and get to know other people.
To sum up, we had excellent service and food on board the Eurodam. I would recommend both HAL and the ship.