Not up to HAL's usual standard: Eurodam Cruise Review by carolgib2014

Eurodam 4
Member Since 2006

Overall Member Rating

Not up to HAL's usual standard

Sail Date: March 2012
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We recently (March 24-31, 2012) experienced a Caribbean cruise on Holland America's Eurodam with another couple, close friends. We went mostly to play duplicate bridge, but also to enjoy the warmer weather provided by this cruise.
The bridge, run by Val and Rick Covalciuc of Fort Myers, FL, proved to be excellent. The ports of call were not my favorites, but were known to me in advance, of course, and accepted. The ship is beautiful and spotless, the wait staff top notch.
However, in my opinion, the mid-level, operations personnel exhibited poor planning and judgment on several occasions. Lapses in the relative isolation of the ocean could have unfortunate consequences.
Our stateroom was spacious, with a beautiful veranda; however, it possessed an overwhelming musty odor from the get-go. I developed an increasing allergic reaction to the odor, eventually lapsing into a coughing, congested fit whenever I was in the cabin for any extended period. I have a More mild dust allergy, but never had experienced anything quite like this. The symptoms rapidly cleared as soon as I left the room.
The cleaning staff made two valiant attempts to "sanitize" the room, particularly the bathroom. Neither cleaning helped; the odor remained. I finally concluded the odor probably emanated from the drains. When sealed off (except for the sink overflow), the odor seemed to gradually subside.
While annoying, the odor issue was not my main concern.
The worst was a series of snafus on the private island trip which endangered our traveling companions. One screw up resulted in the four of us having to walk the length of the beach twice in the equatorial sun (no water provided) in order to get the shaded clamshells for which we had prepaid. We were told they had sold more tickets than they had clamshells for and we could seek a refund back on ship. Eventually, someone did find us two, but they were close, not together and on the kiddie part of the beach. Fortunately, Holland America's demographics don't include many children so the area turned out to be relatively quiet. The beach itself can be dangerous with tree roots sticking up here and there.
I'm in fairly decent shape, so this was a non-issue for me. My wife has back problems and the hike was not kind to her. Our friends, both diabetic, she a heart transplant, had more serious problems. His blood glucose finally tanked and I had to run back to get him a Coke as quickly as possible. Fortunately, he recovered as his sugar rose, although he has no memory of that time.
The "island barbecue" was subpar. My wife asked for a hot dog for which she had to request a bun--and it was stale to boot. The rest of the food was nothing special. The meal was definitely not up to Holland America's usual quality. The picnic tables were barely cleaned of dirty dishes and the tables were never wiped off. Smokers and nonsmokers mixed freely even though they could have been segregated by pavilions. Honestly, returning to the ship and eating in the Lido would have made more sense. There is a tram provided to the picnic area, but if one isn't handy, it's another hike in the hot sun.
HAL gave no advance warning of what rigors might be in store on the island. Given the demographics of Holland America passengers, this always should have been a consideration. The island staff was less than hopeless, unlike the eager, well-trained ship wait personnel. In fairness, the cruise line hadn't directly planned the snafus (I gave but one egregious example here). But, good managerial people, while they don't plan snafus, do run scenarios and how they will deal with them when they inevitably do occur (Example: Given the demographics, ever consider training a wait staff person(s) as an EMT for the island excursion and making him/her clearly recognizable and available?).
We have been on other Holland America cruises--the Zuiderdam to Alaska, Statendam to Hawaii--and they were both excellent. So, I'm treating the Eurodam experience as an aberration for them. However, I will not again sail with Holland America. Less

Published 04/12/12

Cabin review: SU6086 Signature Superior Spa Verandah Suite

Beautiful suite with double door to veranda plus a window overlooking the veranda, huge bathroom with both shower and jet tub. Double sinks. Lovely flat panel TV. No clock in room which seems odd since cruisers are provided with an extensive schedule of activities. The veranda is lovely, spacious and well-furnished. Bed is comfortable.

Read All Signature Superior Spa Verandah Suite (SU) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Stay on the ship. I had been to RCL's Labadee (private port), so I was OK with a beach day on Half Moon Cay. However, RCL knows how to run a smooth operation with a lot of options for all ages; Carnival (HAL), not so much. A brief synopsis. We prepaid for two clamshells to have shade while enjoying the beach with friends, not expecting to trudge 2-tenths of a mile in the sand and hot sun to reach staff to set them up. Finally reaching the designated spot (Water Sports 2), we were told that too many tickets had been sold for the clamshells and we would have to hike back the 0.2 miles to Water Sports 1. Refunds would be issued on the ship. Eventually, two clamshells were found and set up for us on the kiddie beach. Now, the kiddie beach is nice and, being Holland America (HAL), even during spring break, there weren't many kids and the ones present were no problem. But, we lost an hour of our beach day between waiting and trudging to and fro, and then couldn't see the beach from our clamshells cleverly set up behind the kiddie slide. All this to get the clamshells we had (we thought) prudently reserved way in advance. The island staff desperately needs some adult supervision. There was much apparent joy-riding on the island staff golf carts (I emphasize, not the ship's well-trained crew). One driver almost backed over my husband; another was outrageously speeding on sandy sidewalks, possibly in an effort to impress his female staff companion. These employees are amicable enough, but they seemingly lack adequate training and supervision, basically pleasantly clueless. What happens in an emergency? The lack of readily available drinking water is a serious problem. Also, one of our traveling companions experienced a serious problem with his glucose level dropping; his supplies were on the other end of the beach (a result of the earlier mentioned clamshell snafu). My husband had to run nearly the length of the beach to buy him a sugary cola and return. His blood glucose drop was, of course, directly attributable to hiking in the hot sun looking for our clamshells. Diabetes is epidemic, particularly among the HA demographic, while dehydration can have serious ramifications at any age and the island is near equatorial. News to HAL? Could there be a few strategically placed crew passing out water and lemonade? Again, with the older demographic of HAL, more care should be given to exposed tree roots and rocks on parts of the beach, which could be a setup for an elderly fall. The barbecue was subpar. I even had to ask for a bun for my hot dog. Bun was stale. The rest of the food ranged from unremarkable to downright poor. Not remotely like the high quality available on the ship. Tables were filthy-- occasionally cleared of dirty dishes, but almost never wiped off. Smokers were no restricted to a separate dining area, even though it would have been trivially easy (a few signs?) to designate one of the pavilions as "smoking". One last comment: The trams are such that riders are required to climb steps-- assuming you can locate a tram. We finally commandeered a golf cart to return us to the market area after the barbecue. Couldn't find a tram and further walking in the hot sun was not an option. The kind of trams found at amusement park car lots would be much more suitable for this crowd. Yeah, I'd stay on the ship. Better food, avoids the frustrations and potential risks to the elderly endemic on the island, and you'll have the pool to yourself.

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