We cruise with Holland America because of its tone. As seniors who enjoy quiet, contemplative moments as well as good companionship and the pleasures of travel, we find HAL to offer both in just about the right amounts. This was our first trans Atlantic cruise (except for a New York to Bremerhaven passage with our children many decades go) and the eight sea days out of Fort Lauderdale were one of the trip's highlights. Bottom line: we enjoyed the trip and would do it again.
The Eurodam's passenger complement of 2100 was larger than we're used to, but it almost never seemed crowded. There was almost always ample space to pursue whatever activity we had in mind. The ship was immaculate and the service up to HAL's well known standards. Our cabin steward was never under foot but always seemed to know when to move in and do his thing. We had the pleasure of meeting a dining room steward from a previous cruise and enjoyed his service.
All that said, we do have some criticisms of the Eurodam. (1) The casino straddles the entry way to the main theater on one deck, making it difficult to avoid both the smoke and the activity. We appreciate the importance of the casino to many passengers and to the company's bottom line, but much prefer its being off to the side, as on the Rotterdam, for example. We also support strongly a no-smoking policy ship wide. We and several of our new friends suffered respiratory problems throughout the cruise due, likely, to the second-hand smoke that made its way far beyond the casino. Fortunately, HAL is surveying the smoking issue. (2) The library was smaller in relationship to the ship's size than those on other HAL boats. Its position next to the Crow's Nest results in a mixing of readers with nappers, to the disadvantage of the former. (3) While the HAL cast and stage band were superb - great young talent - the headline entertainment left a lot to be desired. The hammered dulcimer, for Pete's sake, and a Liberace wannabe. Two lecturers on geopolitical topics were very bad - given 30 minutes of Internet and PowerPoint, I could have whipped up a lot better myself - and the piano bar guy really sucked. Couldn't play; couldn't sing. HAL should do better entertainment wise, as is, I believe, widely recognized.
We don't cruise for the food and try our best to maintain a healthy diet on board. But we found food and preparation quality to be generally quite good. A dinner at the Pinnacle is still freshly and fondly in our memory.
The ports of call selection (originally 16 with Rome repeated) was a major attraction to us. To visit Greek and Roman history throughout the northern Med was a perfect trip. Unfortunately, Iceland's volcano resulted in a change of itinerary and the dropping of one port (Corfu) in order to accommodate passengers leaving and arriving, but the important stops remained. Quality of excursions and guides were at the mercy of the travel gods and, indeed, varied all over the lot, but we got what we came for for the most part, and will review only the most egregiously bad.
Desk/vanity table size too small almost even for a lap top. We otherwise enjoyed the cabin and its comfort. The veranda didn't get as much use as we thought it would (a bit shallower than expected) but was appreciated at times and worth the extra cost. I was impressed by the acoustic insulation. Hardly ever heard anyone else. Everything was small, but you're on a ship! Unless you can afford a penthouse, that's what you get.
Our excursion to "North Ibiza" took us only to Santa Eulalia, just a couple of kilometers north of the "South Ibiza" port. We visited a couple of semi-interesting churches, known primarily for their fortress-like construction as protection from pirates. We were then walked a few blocks down the the beach in Eulalia to get our "refreshments". Ushered into a rather swanky hotel, we were escorted to the patio, overlooking the water, and seated at tables for six beautifully covered in white linen. In the center of each table was a paper plate containing a few potato chips - not big ones from the top of the bag, but crumbles from the bottom - and a small dish of mixed nuts. We ordered cokes and nibbled on the chips and nuts, waiting for our refreshments, but learned shortly that we had had them. Our time being up, we were given no opportunity to wander on our own, but bused back to the ship. Not a moment too soon, I felt. What a rip-off.
We opted not to take an excursion in Monte Carlo, thinking that we could see most of the city by wandering. However, preparations for the Grand Prix, which apparently begin six months before the event and take six months afterward to take down, made the whole town decidedly pedestrian unfriendly. We had to explore, through wire fences and bleachers as through an overgrown jungle, our own path into the lower reaches of the district, avoiding drivers apparently practicing for the race on this peaceful Sunday morning. We escaped back to the ship with our lives but no other memories of Monaco.
Having an enforced extra day (totally understandable and no hard feelings) in Civitavecchia, we amused ourselves from our veranda watching a guy with a winch trying to fill the ocean with rocks. On our return ten days later, we found he had actually succeeded, to an extent.