We drove into Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted with Holland America's Eurodam right in front of our vehicle once we drove through the security gate. Upon arrival to the ship, the baggage staff quickly comes to assist in unloading your bags and then you can easily drive across the street and park in the parking garage which offers easy access to the check-in facility via a covered walk-way, or elevator to ground level.
The check-in process has become much easier through the years, and I'm still curious why they make you print out any documents prior to your arrival as they were never asked for, nor needed. No credit verification was necessary and the only document needing to be filled out was the health verification which simply asks if anyone in the traveling party has had any illness in the preceding days. Note, if you answer yes you will be asked to see the ships Doctor to ascertain your health and ability to travel. The check-in process also included a photo which is input into the security system to verify you are who you are when you re-board the ship. Your room key is also given at this time and then you are asked to go into a holding area with a boarding number assigned for an easier entry with less crowd onto the ship.
Once we entered the room we noticed it is smaller than similar category rooms on Royal Caribbean and Disney. One of the drawbacks of the room is the minimal drawer space. Make sure you take luggage that "nest" into one another for easy storage as the space is premium. Bedding was comfortable, bathroom and shower area were more than adequate and the tv is a flatscreen that does show Fox News Channel, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, TCM and no broadcast channels such as ABC,NBC or CBS. The balcony and furniture was very nice.
The food in the main dining room and Lido area were very good. The best restaurant we experienced during our cruise was Tamarind, the Asian flare restaurant which has a minimal up-charge. I will tell you the best buy on the entire ship was the Lido poolside cabana which is $199.00 per week, and I believe there are only 8-10 of these available. Book these early and you will not be sorry. The furniture in the cabanas include an oval shaped lounge, two chairs and a table. This also features drink and food service from an assigned cabana steward and you can order off of a menu each day for lunch and they also bring fresh fruit platters daily and chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. I DO NOT suggest the cabana on the private island, or the offered butler service at a significant up-charge. The bar is so far from the cabanas you will never get your money worth out of the included beverages.
Club HAL was very nice and the small amount of children on this particular cruise enhanced the experience even more. I believe there were 19 kids between 3-7 who utilized this service, so the attention by the staff was excellent.
A disappointing part of the cruise is we had to tender in St. Thomas, which we have never had to do previously. In fact, when we booked the cruise it was not shown as a tender port. Our particular tender got stuck outside of the ship for 50 minutes in the middle of a storm and very rough seas because the wind dislodged the ships anchor and the ship therefore could not receive our tender until re-establishing a footing for stability. We were stuck in very high waves which created significant issues for all on board. While this was not necessarily Holland America's fault, how they handled the tendering was certainly their issue which was mismanaged.
I would certainly recommend the Eurodam and I believe the Captain, Hotel Manager and Cruise Director were very approachable and truly did want to please their guests. The Cruise Director realized his role, unlike other CD's who are wannabe entertainers, JT Watters was extremely professional and added just the right amount of humor to his dialogue. Of course, the typical communication issues with some staff were experienced, as is the case on most cruises, due to language barrier.
Entertainment was simply so, so. The production so seemed very amateurish and offered young entertainers who wanted to please but offered cracking voices and off-step dancing. There was no comedian, juggler, but there was a good magician, James Cielan. Those who have traveled on Zuiderdam, or the Eurodam have certainly experienced Mr. Cielan before as he has been around on those ships a very, very long time. A bit of a change-up would be good here. In the Crow's Nest was a very good guitar player named Jamie who is from Scotland. While his talents were great it was clear he was new and nervous. He was scheduled from 5-9 on most nights and then out of that time, was on break for over an hour. I will never understand that size break for only a four hour set. On one night the Crow's Nest was absolutely packed, so much I couldn't find a place to sit, which is odd for that location. In any event, Jamie took a break without hesitation, or direction that he should stay to entertain the masses. After 9pm there was no entertainment in the Crow's Nest, which was disappointing and is also the best venue for views and comfort on the whole ship. I think whoever is booking entertainment needs to rethink their position in scheduling and personalities who are booked.
Departure of the Eurodam was great. You get to choose your own departure time and the management of the time was excellent and I believe this is an area which has been significantly improved by Holland America. We left the ship at 930pm and we were even able to have morning breakfast delivered to the room on the day of departure. It was a relaxing departure, unlike other cruises which are hurrying you off.
Enjoy your cruise. I hope this evaluation assists you in your decision process. I'm sure I forgot some things to write about, but I don't think they would be important as we did enjoy our cruise.