Holland America Line may be one of cruising's most venerable lines, but Eurodam, which debuted in July 2008, continues HAL's more recent tradition of offering an onboard ambience that blends elements from past and present. The ship's elegant art collection, its superbly trained crewmembers -- who hail mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia -- and courtly evening entertainment, from a nightly piano-violin ensemble playing classics to cheek-to-cheek dancing, all connect passengers to Holland America's stately heritage.
And yet, additions to Eurodam -- such as Tamarind, Holland America's first Asian restaurant; the Silk Den lounge, designed as a swanky homage to a Hong Kong hipster's club; a rockin' Memphis-and-Motown band in the BB King Blues Club; and Explorations, a gathering place that mixes together a library, coffee bar, Internet cafe, Crow's Nest lounge and card room -- point to a more contemporary vibe.
The progress that Eurodam represents for Holland America is relatively gentle. It's an evolution, rather than a revolution, to be sure. Still, certain changes point more to the line's future than its past. Eurodam is the first built-for-Holland America ship in the fleet to be designed without a tennis court, for instance. That space went a long way to making room for a combination basketball/dodgeball court, Silk Den and the adjacent Tamarind. The new Canaletto, a family-style Italian restaurant, has few of the usual dining formalities. If the private, fee-extra cabana areas around and above the main pool remind me more of a sleek South Beach resort than a cruise ship, well that's progress, right?
I think so. Holland America, long a line catering more to mature travelers than active ones, has been on a journey to broaden its appeal without alienating its more traditional fans. On Eurodam, the mix works.
Your fellow passengers on Eurodam will vary, depending on the ship's itinerary. On our Baltic cruise, fully half the passengers were Americans, while the bulk of the rest were Australians, Canadians and Western Europeans. On a Caribbean cruise, you'll find even more North Americans.
In most cases, Eurodam cruisers were well-traveled and typically more mature -- in the 50-plus demographic. Families were amply represented, with about 13 percent of passengers on the Baltic cruise younger than 18 years, but this did not overpower the experience. The family contingent is largest during the traditional American school holiday periods.
On Holland America, formal nights are still considered to be quite formal. Occurring twice on a seven-night cruise (and more often on longer voyages), passengers really do dress to the nines; many men wear tuxedos or dark suits, and women wear long gowns or elegant pants ensembles. The rest of the time, the ambience is resort casual -- day and night. Very informal gear, such as jeans and shorts, is appropriate for outer decks but not so much for restaurants.
The automatic tip for passengers staying in interior, oceanview and verandah cabins is $12.50 per person, per day. Passengers in suites will be charged $13.50 per person, per day.