Holland America's entertainment and enrichment program is divided into four categories: Explorations for shore-excursion and destination-focused information; Culinary Arts Center with activities that range from cooking demonstrations to food-related trivia; Digital Workshop with subjects that include digital photography and making a vacation video; and Mind, Body, Spirit, focusing on fitness, recreation and brain stimulation games like puzzles and trivia.
These occur mostly during the day -- though, on our port-intensive cruise, some activities were held at night -- and there's rarely a fee charged. Exceptions are crafts workshops, such as scrapbooking, that require materials, and the tasting sessions for vodka and wine, or the cocktail-mixing classes. You can watch the demonstrations for free but it you want to drink, the fees vary from $12.50 to $35, for the upscale wine-tasting.
Eurodam really comes alive at night. Las Vegas-style revues are held at the two-deck-high Mainstage, which underwent a modernization in December 2013 with the addition of $2.5-million worth of LED screens. Used as shifting backdrops for the revues, the results can leave passengers asking, "How did they DO that?"
The Screening Room, the ship's cinema, features recent movies shown up to five times a day (and looped on the in-cabin TVs the following day).
There's also music, which is quite often accompanied by dancing -- whether cheek-to-cheek or more interpretative -- all over the ship. Hot spots include The BB King Blues Club, featuring a rockin' six-piece band with two vocalists belting Memphis and Motown favorites, and just down the Deck 2 corridor, the often-raucous Piano Bar, where passengers sing along with the pianist. The HALcats play in the Ocean Bar, the primary spot for dancing. Explorer's Lounge has the elegant Adagio duo playing classics. Northern Lights, the ship's disco, pumps out contemporary dance music and special theme mixes, such as Motown Mania and Latin Hits. The ship's sports bar offers a multiscreen opportunity to watch whatever match or tournament is on television.
Recently added to HAL's fleet is a competition for passengers fashioned after the hit TV show, Dancing with the Stars. Over the course of a voyage, passengers are invited to learn dance steps such as the tango, swing and waltz; the lessons are taught by the ships' professional dancers. Typically about 50 amateurs will try out; judges reduce the number to six finalists, who then compete with their pro partners as the entertainment the last night onboard. For this finale, the Mainstage theater is typically full.
Eurodam's casino is right in the heart of the nightlife district (a term I use to describe the night-owl spots, such as the disco, sports bar and piano bar). It features a wide variety of slot machines and all major table games.
An interesting offering is the Eurodam Pub Crawl, where the bar staff leads participants on a tour of the ship's lounges. Cost is $20, but that includes four drinks that would cost easily that much otherwise.
Holland America has done an excellent job of sprucing up options for shore excursions in ports of call. These range from standard motorcoach tours to more adventurous, recreationally oriented activities such as cycling or kayaking. The shore excursions desk can also make arrangements for private guides.
Eurodam Public Rooms
On Deck 1, the officers who provide onboard services, the shore excursions department and a future cruises sales agent are located near the rather sterile atrium bar.
The real fun on Eurodam is the cluster of public rooms on Decks 2 and 3. That's where you'll find the fantastic, Food Network-like Culinary Arts Center; a mall-like stretch of shops carrying the usual cruise souvenirs, with an extra-heavy selection of pricey jewelry; the 55-seat cinema; a photo gallery; and an art auction display space. There are also several meeting rooms, as well as a private, group dining room that's adjacent to The Rembrandt.
Tucked away on Deck 11 is the Explorations Cafe, and it's a destination in its own right. This concept, which debuted on the line's Vista-class ships (and has since been expanded to other vessels in the fleet), aims to create a coffee house ambience in space carved out from the Crow's Nest Bar. There, you'll find a coffee bar selling for-fee beverages, card and game tables, a library that's one of the best in cruising and really comfortable reading chairs that face out to the sea.
It's also the locale for the ship's Internet-connected computers. The cost is 75 cents per minute; heavy users can get a discount on packages (ranging from 100 minutes for $55 to 1,000 minutes for $250).
What's also nice about Explorations' location in the Crow's Nest is that the typically evening-only space really jumps all day long, as well.
There are no self-service laundromats onboard.
Eurodam Spa & Fitness
Eurodam's main pool is among the most beautiful at sea. It's decorated in muted earth tones with captivating brown and cream tiles and brown wickerlike chaises with plush, plum-colored cushions. Instead of the marine sculptures that populate most pool areas on Holland America's ships, this one has a colorful waterfall fountain. Beyond the pool, there's a jumbo whirlpool and a pair of smaller ones.
This ship has two levels of cabanas. On the pool deck itself, curtained cabanas line one windowed wall. Inside each is a chaise-for-two and small table. Extras include handheld fans, bottled water, Evian spritzers and towels and/or wool blankets. The fee -- $30 for port days, $50 at sea -- permits occupancy between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (You rent for the day.) It also includes lunch service from the cabana menu. Choices include various panini sandwiches, burgers and salads. Glasses of Champagne, afternoon tea and chocolate-covered strawberries are offered, and cabana stewards will fetch cocktails, though you'll be charged for them.
While these are primarily aimed at couples looking to carve out a distinctive pool experience, the cabanas are also fantastic for families, offering a private space so kids can play (and nap) while parents enjoy the pool scene. One downside (and the reason why small fans are provided) is that, while the cabanas have full floor-to-roof windows, there's little air circulation.
One deck above is The Retreat, another cabana community, and it's even nicer than the poolside option. There, designers have carved out a deck for cabanas that are open to sea air, and the area also offers a Miami Beach-like outdoor lounge with extra couches, arm chairs and dining tables. Standards (costing $45 on port days, $75 on sea days) feature two chaise lounges and a small table. Corner units ($65 and $115, respectively) are by far the largest, featuring twin chaises and a double lounger along with a larger table and extra chairs. All receive the same services as cabana inhabitants a deck below.
Eurodam's second major pool is located aft. The Sea View is my favorite for a few reasons. There's plenty of deck space with a view of open sea and the wake, and the Cote d'Azur-style cabana hangings give it a festive air. (There are no private units in this pool area.) It's also blissfully peaceful – it's reserved for adults.
Both the Lido Pool and the Sea View are located adjacent to the Lido buffet. The former is home to the Dive In at the Terrace Grill, while the latter features Slice Pizza. Both have bars. It's quite easy to while away a day on the pool deck without having to move too far.
At the very front of the ship, the Greenhouse Spa is a sprawling complex adjacent to the main pool area and offers all the usual services, such as massages, facials and pedicures.
In addition to a near-daily array of changing discounts for combination treatments, the Spa offers discounts of 10 percent from its prices for booking one treatment, 20 percent for booking two, and 30 percent for booking three.
The ship's fitness center features circuit-training machines and free weights. Among the classes offered are yoga, Pilates and indoor cycling, among others. Most require passengers to pay a fee of $12 per class or three classes for $30. Also, a cardio-centric Boot Camp of 45 to 50 minutes is $60 for two sessions.
Recreational facilities beyond full-court basketball and volleyball are limited onboard Eurodam. There's a walking/jogging track on the promenade.