A premium price for a not-so Premium Experience: Eurodam Cruise Review by Roger007

Eurodam 3

Overall Member Rating

A premium price for a not-so Premium Experience

Sail Date: August 2012
Destination: Transatlantic
Embarkation: Amsterdam
Holland America Eurodam
8-29-2012-- 9/14/2012
Viking Voyage out of Amsterdam to New York
cabin veranda 6011
Premium Price for a not-so "premium" experience

what I liked:
- Culinary Arts Center and presentations. The only critique was the seating was so far back a total disconnect existed between the chef and the audience. Enjoyed the center on the Zaandam better; auditorium seating there.
- Library has its own librarian and extensive selection, well stocked and cared for (but not as large as other Holland American ships we have travelled upon).
- Were able to access our cabin immediately upon arrival on ship (1pm) and luggage was there within 20 minutes (although it took us 2 hours to get onboard--see below).
- Must be an older ship as the bathroom actually had enough room for you to turn around in. Also had a bathtub which we have not seen in a bathroom for many More many years on a ship.
- Cabin attendants kept the cabin spotless, was quick to respond to any need, and stayed out of the way unless asked for.
- Lido Buffet offered considerable variety, an Asian section that changed every day. Had Dutch breakfast, English breakfast, and American breakfast offerings. Ice cream limited in choices though. Deserts good but did not change over the course of the cruise. I did like that they had replicas of each main dish available so you can see what the disk looks like before you order--never seen this on a cruise ship before.
- I must say the Eurodam offers a Travel Advisor that is not part of the Excursion staff and does not try to sell you ship's excursions at every opportunity but is knowledgeable about the various ports. We also had an excellent naturalist and native of Iceland to discuss Iceland and Greenland.
- The Captain provided great overviews of our location and weather conditions in clear, concise and understandable language (English). JC, the cruise director also kept us informed without too much cross selling of the events and opportunities available during the day's activities.
- On sixth floor a bad odor was being smelled and grew increasingly worst as the cruise continued. Called the front desk and reported it. No action taken on it.
- Squeezed Orange Juice is available at no extra cost; the digital workshops were also complementary. Both these items are regularly extra on other cruise lines.

What I did not like:
- Embarkation: arrived at cruise terminal at 11am. No one from company was there to greet us. Sent to a large holding area. No complimentary water or punch, no complimentary cookies. Just sit and wait and wait and wait. At twelve, opened up for registration. An hour later we were finally at the ship. Wait too long and without any company involvement.
- Asked for Milk. Not at drink stations.No one knew where it was or would get it for you. Finally was told to look in Deserts. Found it. What is it doing in deserts? Later in the cruise, the milk I was getting tasted sour and was going bad. This is not good . . . for anyone. Speaking of milk, the ship's attendants need to check expiration dates. I received a milk with a do not sell after date of 9-12; unfortunately it was already 9-13 and one could taste the milk going bad. Not the first time it happened. Could lead to some serious food poisoning.
- Internet only accessible in public areas not in staterooms. At this stage in technology, no excuse. What extra effort does it take to extend it shipwide? As always, expensive and unless you get up very early (I was there between 7 am and 8am sometimes as early as 6am), connect time very slow and frustrating. Always a major area of contention when passengers talk and gripe. Expensive price for poor service. When will a cruise line implement all you can use internet service for a reasonable daily price? It would be a hit.
- I have a CPAP. Every other cruise on every other line, I have asked for Distilled Water and it was waiting for me. This time not. When inquired, I was told I had to call the medical center and request it . . . for a fee!!
- Specialty restaurants are all for a fee. Canaletto used to be free but they have implemented a $10 pp fee. Good news is that you get a glass of wine or beer with your meal. Still ... Just another example of cruiselines trending towards the airline model of nickel and dimming you for everything.
- For the desk in the room we had a bench not a chair. Not to my liking. This broke the second day out; I told the cabin attendant. it had not been replaced yet when we left the ship in NYC two weeks later.
- Casino. No longer are you cash bound. It is all card driven. If you want to change machines, you must go through a process to cash out and then again at the new machine to deposit. True once you place 10 or 20 on your card, from the casinos's perspective you will be more inclined to spend it rather than take your winnings and leave. Do not like it. I like to hear the sounds of coins hitting the metal and be able to feel my winnings.
- The afternoon tea is always one of Holland America's best features. Formal, china with attendants with white gloves. This one was marked by poor, sporadic, inconsistent service and long wait times. Quite disappointing. Went back a second time. Once again service extremely poor. Had to wait half an hour to be served cakes. One attendant came by, served two at our table and then went to another table. When we told the officer in charge of our wait, all she said was "We did not expect this many." It was a sea day, very few options and the guest lecturer was in attendance, what did they expect the passengers to do? Very poor management and poor service. Two chances are enough; Did not return. As a result did not venture into MDR rarely at all during cruise.
- Service at Canaletto poor. waited many minutes between courses. how long does it take for an appetizer?
- Only two trivia sessions a day. I am used to 4 or more on TAs. Not enough for trivia enthusiasts.
- The Therapy pool is extra. We are used to it being complementary on other lines (notably Celebrity). Just another example of nickel and diming passengers.
- We were given 6 pillows, plenty usually. But all of them were the type that once your head hits it gives until your head is actually lying on the bed. I need firm pillows but none were made available even after asking twice.
- The minibar. We never use the minibar. Once during the cruise we were charged for bottled water that we had not used. We got the extra charge removed. However, twice near the beginning of the cruise, we asked the minibar to be completely emptied so we could use the space for something else. Yet never done. Frustrated and upset by a simple request as that not being fulfilled.
- Ate at the Lido Buffet. Had two stations, one on either side but serving the same fare. No separate Italian, Asian, or deli just the two stations. Really crowded. Food alright but nothing special. On the positive, the buffet did serve the same dishes available at the main dining room.
- Dessert station ice cream not manned half the time. Only offered a few flavors. Used to other cruise lines offering a dozen different flavors and changing them daily. Spoiled by our previous Holland America cruise with huge cookies available; the ones offered here were silver dollar sized and did not have the flavor available before. Poor dessert selections.
- Tamarind is the Asian specialty restaurant. It is free for lunch but a fee for dinner. Went up half a dozen times and was told it was booked solid for entire of next week. What is the used of having this restaurant when one cannot use it. Need to expand capacity if it is so popular.
- For the disembarkation and the embarkation at the ports they had one gangway and one inspection machine which led to long lines and disgruntled passengers.
- The Mainstage, the primary theatre, has its first 12 rows non-tiered which makes it very difficult to see near the stage. Also many pillars inhibit quality viewing throughout the theatre.
- Elevators out of order. It seemed that no matter what day, one of the four elevators in a bank were out of order. Very strange as usually even one being out of order for a day is unusual.
- Tips. If you do not want tips to be automatically charged to your room (We like to personally hand out the cash) the Eurodam makes you wait until the last day (in the hope you will forget about it). Other ships allow you to do so the first few days. I am certain the process is available, it is just that the spirit is weak and unwilling.
- We went to check our bill on the TV and could not find it. Called downstairs to find out no automatic system is in place. This is second rate as all other cruise lines and ships we have been on have had such a system. For a so-called "premium" cruise line this is unacceptable.
- The average age must have been 70 and above. Minimal ballroom dancing or live music available. If you are over 70 this may be your ship. If you want to be with others your own age (anything below 60), don't try this ship (or in our experience the entire Holland America line).
- We went to Pinnacle Cirque once during the cruise to celebrate Rachel's Birthday. Food was good, service acceptable but not worth the extra 20pp to attend. I ordered my chateaubriand medium well as always and it arrived medium rare. Twice I had to send it back before it came back the way I wanted. I guess Chefs are there to please themselves not the customers.

Food: lots of it and wide variety. We ate mainly in the Lido and the specialty restaurants for formal nights (Having worn suit and tie for 40 years when I am on vacation I like to relax and a tie is the furthest thing from my mind. Also it cuts down on paying for extra baggage fees.) Besides, having read many of the forums on formal night attire and hearing the heated exchanges that were discussed, I did not want to 'ruin' another guest's 'special' night but not appearing in full formal tux. Our experiences in the MDR during afternoon teas and the few lunches we ate there were anything but delightful, mainly chaotic and poor service and extrapolated that service into what dinner would be like.In addition, the Lido offered similar fare, you could pick and choose what you wanted (several small helpings of entrees instead of the large portions served in MDR).
We have long ago decided to limit our intake and forgo the large five course formal dinners for small varieties of food for dinner. We are avid trivia players and trivia started at 7:30; we saw many early seating players rush in late after rushing through the dinner to get there. And finally, sitting down for 2 plus hours, eating with total strangers whom you never met before and never will see again, making forced small talk for hours while waiting fifteen or more minutes for the next course, is not our idea of fun. For a premium cruise, We both felt like the food could have been much better. Received items that were tough and overcooked or undercooked. Not impressed with HAL's food.
What we missed was the small deli or food kiosk one could get cookies, tea, or snacks at any time in a convenient location. RCI and Celebrity had their on the promenade easy to find and convenient. Never found a similar one on the Eurodam.

We did our own excursions in ports, connected with others from Cruise Critic. Ship shore excursions were outlandishly expensive. We did the Flam railroad for $55 round trip each; ship excursion was $140 (true that included waffles at a hotel near the summit but that is some expensive waffles).
- Stavanger..beautiful day... Did HOHO and several museums.
- Flam ... one of highlights of trip. Hundred mile long fjord. Thousand foot high cliffs. Snow covered in September!! Rail trip spectacular
- Lerwick Shetland Islands . .. cancelled because of weather
- Iceland beautiful but cold and wet. Yes I know it is 64 degrees North latitude but I thought summer would be slightly warmer even here. Rained all of day two which minimized outside viewing and picture taking.
- Prince Christian Sound--beautiful scenery and photographic heaven
- Greenland. By tender and only for 4 hours. But at least we set foot not the island. Natives went out of their way to shower us with kindness and wanted our dollars.
- St. john's. cancelled due to hurricanes
- Halifax: met with friends from a previous cruise
- NYC; stayed over the weekend to see some Broadway shows and visit with our son.

Entertainment: Acceptable. Singers and dancers excellent. The "physical" comedian was a laugh a minute. The male vocalist was english and his accent meant it was hard to understand his words. The dancers were fun to watch and did an excellent job. the Celloist was superb despite our initial doubt on whether or not a show could be made out of a solo cellist. The magician was more of a comedian but was good and hilarious nonetheless. Vocalist was acceptable but nothing extraordinary. Pianist sang a rap song which was not appropriate for this audience; his work was also drowned out by the accompanying band.

Kudos go to JC, the cruise director, who was a blast the entire trip. Outstanding performance. Also to Rene, the DJ, who was excellent in handling trivia. The Captain deserves a high rating for his down to earth announcements and no accent English which everyone could understand (unlike other Captains whose English had to be from another world). Great job guys. Taylor the party planner, culinary arts director, was always bubbly, friendly and knowledgable. . Liz the piano bar pianist was always friendly and accommodating. Kudos to her as well. Ian, the travel guide, gets kudos for his charming wit and humor that kept one roaring.

Overall. Had a great trip, Outstanding pre-cruise in Amsterdam. Especial thanks to Rich and Cath for being such good hosts to all cruise criticers while there. Saw the fjords, Iceland, Greenland, and Halifax so these can be erased from the bucket list. Meant some really neat people that we hope to keep the friendship alive even after the cruise. The Eurodam is only four years ago and supposedly one of the flagships of Holland America's fleet. But we had a much better time and better service with the older Zaandam in 2011. And not keen on Holland America. It just does not provide the value it supposedly offers from being a "premium" line. We both agree we will stick to Celebrity whenever possible as it is superior in our opinion (IMHO) and for half the price got superior service. Doubt if we will return to Holland America. Less

Published 09/16/12

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