Our cruise started with some confusion upon arriving at Pier 26 in Fort Lauderdale. As soon as we exited our taxi, we were bombarded by folks asking for a tip to take care of our luggage. Once tipped, these folks walked away and we didn't know how to proceed to the terminal. After asking several folks, we entered the terminal and checked in quite easily.
We were looking forward to seeing our cabin, as we were upgraded to a SB class. Our first impressions were one of shock and disappointment. Our suite was not clean. The orange chairs were heavily soiled, spotted and dirty. The bed skirt was heavily stained, the bathroom wasn't clean and there was a heavy layer of dust over all the suite. We had to request twice that the room be cleaned properly. Not off to a good start.
While preparing for our safety session, I mistakenly pulled a life jacket from our closet (you don't need to bring your life jacket to the safety session). Behind the life jacket were a pair a shorts from a previous guest. This suggested to me that the suite had not been thoroughly inspected and cleaned. Strike 3.
On Day 2 we sent some clean clothes out to be pressed only. Two shirts were sent back with water stains (we originally thought they were scorched) and a pair of pants were heavily soiled. Strike 4. The laundry supervisor visited our suite and it was only after were assured him that the items were new and never worn did he agree to take them back and fix the issue. Strike 5.
Day 2 was also the first formal night and we were disappointed to not have received our corsage and flowers for the event. Strike 6.
Day 3 was my birthday and we had ordered a cake to be sent to our suite to celebrate the event. The cake was ordered by our travel agent. The cake did not arrive. Strike 7.
By Day 4, we were extremely disappointed with the service being provided and my wife spoke with the concierge at the Neptune Lounge to make them aware of our displeasure. We received a lot of apologies and were asked what we would like to make things better. I was surprised by this statement as it seemed to me that HAL lost sight of the fact that it is HAL that sets the expectations for the cruise and what we want is to have those expectations met.
Of course, by this time we had met many folks on the cruise and were sharing experiences. We weren't the only folks receiving poor service. One couple shared their poor breakfast experience in the Pinnacle Grill, while others thought that the overall service was poor. We frequently found ourselves in the Lido with dirty plates not being cleared. I was surprised to find servers moving empty wine glasses from table to table after guests had sat down and other servers coughing into their hands and then handling bread baskets and dish wear.
HAL did send us a free bottle of wine with a note apologizing for the condition of the suite and sent us a free bottle of champagne and a not apologizing for not delivering the birthday cake. It was a nice gesture, but it did not make up for a disappointing first impression or a lost birthday celebration.
The ports of call were wonderful. We especially enjoyed Half Moon Cay and swimming in the ocean. We had rented a clam shell for the day and again experienced poor service. We were instructed to go to Hut 1, only to be told to go to Hut 2 further down the beach. (We weren't informed that there was a tram available to take us down the beach). So we set off walking down the beach until we came to Hut 2, only to be told to follow another gentleman who appeared very confused. He took us further down the beach and then back up the beach and told us that he would set the clam shells up behind other clam shells, which meant we would not have any view of the ocean. One guest said she would just request a refund and decided to return to the ship. We stayed and had a great day.
The food on board was okay. The Lido was typical cafeteria quality and was definitely of lower quality than what we had previously experienced on the Veendam. We found most of the desserts to be poor. If you love mousse and sponge cake, you will enjoy the dessert offerings. The Dessert Extravagance night was disappointing. Again, mousse and sponge cake. The Chocolate Decadence in the dining room was great, as was the frozen chocolate torte. My wife's creme brulle was frozen in places and the meringue on the baked Alaska wasn't cooked. Many of the food offerings were poor. The crab cakes in the dining room were tiny and you could not taste any crab. We found much of the food to be over salted.
We were invited for a tour of the bridge with the Captain. During the tour we found out that the extreme shaking on the ship was being caused by what they think were the rubber gaskets on the engines and they were working on a fix. Depending on where you were, the shaking was quite pronounced. Lamps shaking, lights swaying and there was a spot in the shops on the 3rd floor that was actually uncomfortable to stand.
I am confused as to why HAL would ask us to chose a disembarkation time and then just disregard it. We had requested a later disembarkation time as our flight out of Fort Lauderdale was in the afternoon (also booked through HAL). We were surprised when our disembarkation was called an hour and a half earlier than requested, resulting in hours spent sitting in the airport waiting for our flight.
Both my wife and I agreed that we enjoyed our ports of call and had a great time. Service on the Eurodam was quite poor and while we haven't given up on HAL, we will never cruise on the Eurodam again and will not recommend the ship to family and friends. Should we chose HAL again, it will be one of its smaller ships.