My wife and I (both 53) were asked to join our friends on the Eurodam 11 day cruise to the Panama Canal. Having cruised several times before on Disney, RCCL & NCL we were eager to experience HAL. I was aware that the HAL demographic was the older sort. We booked in 2018 for a 2020 cruise, so we had plenty of time for research and YouTube video watching. My wife kept insisting that it wasn’t an “old person” cruise....and today, as I sit on the Lido deck of the Eurodam on day 10 of our 11 day cruise, writing this review, I can confidently say that it is a cruise geared to seniors.
This doesn’t make it bad, or boring. Perhaps for my wife and I it is a bit boring. But I can certainly see why this cruise appeals to the over 70 crowd. As a disclaimer, please let me remind you that the views expressed herein are from that of a young-at-heart 53 year old.
95% of the passengers on our cruise are older than me...by a good margin. But they all seem to be enjoying the selection of activities and entertainment. There is a game room where the passengers gather to play board games or card games. There are televisions set up in that room. There is a small casino, that seems very tight on the payouts. There are two very talented pianists that play in the Billboard Onboard club and they attract a nice crowd. They performed almost every night so far. I don’t feel as though I am qualified to review the entertainment on the main stage. I am not a fan of stage shows, so normally I don’t attend. I did go to the comedian show....he was okay..but his set was targeted toward an audience 80 and up. I went back a few nights later to see the impressionist, I gave him about 20 minutes before leaving the show. His first impression was of Paul Lynde. If you know who Paul Lynde was...then this is a show for you! There was also a Brazilian musician (Danilo Gonzalez) that performed one night..I did not attend that show but I heard a lot of people walked out on the show because it was a lot of loud guitar music, not targeted toward this crowd apparently.
So what is lacking? What could HAL do differently? I’m not sure they will change anything, as apparently this type of cruise works for their demographic, but here are a few things I would like to see.
There is no live band on the pool deck.
There are no activities throughout the course of the day that might appear on the pool decK. Other cruise lines we have been on have offered volley ball or even belly flop contests which of course would not appeal to this crowd, but surely there must be something they could offer in the form of entertainment.
Half way through the first week, my wife and I found ourselves working on a jigsaw puzzle in the Explorations Cafe. That was a first for me. By the way, if jigsaw puzzles are your form of entertainment, maybe the cruise line could pitch in and buy a few new puzzles before each cruise? The one we were working on had a note in the box saying it was missing 11 pieces.
Food is hard to find at certain times of the day. You can always get room service 24/7 (although the menu is quite limited). And you can always get pizza by the Sea View pool but you have to order a whole pizza and wait 10-15 minutes. An improvement would be to offer slices and have them ready-made, with an option for a whole pizza if you wish. You can also order burgers and dogs for Dive-In with a 15-20 minute wait.
But if you are looking for food around 4:15PM - 5:15PM and the again from 9:30PM - 10:30PM you are out of luck!
What ever happened to midnight buffets with ice sculptures and butter carved into seahorses? Does any cruise line offer that type of fare any more?
As I sit on my deck chair looking at the selection of activities to choose from for the day, I may go to the Team Trivia challenge but will pass on the selection of “Look ten years Younger w/ Dr. Diana”, “Increase your Metabolism”, “Design your own Luggage Tags” or “Design your own Keepsake Tin Box”.
The food on board is good, some of it is very good. I haven’t experienced anything amazing however. You can, of course, pay more money to experience one of their “exclusive” restaurants, but that is an entirely different topic that I could comment on for days. Starting with, “Let me get this straight, you can offer better food if I pay you more money? So in the meantime I have to settle for the “free” food that is included with the cruise?” I know this is common not just on HAL but the other cruise lines I have been on as well, I just disagree with the idea. There was a time when, if you paid to go on a cruise you got amazing food at each meal and didn’t have to pay an up charge for better food.
Some of the other cruisers seem to like having the staff dish out your selections at the buffet. I am not a fan. I have stood to the side waiting for a roll or sausage or piece of fruit to be placed on my dish while the food staff is attending to another passenger by dishing up an omelet or crepe or other food item which does need assistance. The food at the Lido is presented in such a way that you cannot, in most cases, help yourself even if the tongs are within reach. The sneeze guards are so low that you have to be very short or have extremely flexible limbs to helps yourself, forcing you to ask for assistance for that food selection that you wanted one more piece of, but were too embarrassed to ask for.
The dining room is well run and the servers, assistant servers and head waiters are very accommodating. We originally chose the as-you-wish dining option, thinking that would be great to not have to be locked in to a dining time, but very early on we discovered that once we found a table we liked with servers that knew us, we opted to go to that table each night at the same time and the wait staff accommodated our request. This is one of the truly unique experiences you can still have on a cruise ship. That is...having your waiter call you by name, know your likes and dislikes, having your favorite beverage ready for you when you sit down and all of the other quirks you may have that you would have to explain to a new waiter if you did not commit to a dinner time. I now know that I much prefer that tradition much more than the optional come-when-you-want.
Specific to this cruise, the ports were good. I think they could have squeezed another day in at half moon Cay if they wanted to. We had to miss our day in Costa Rica due to rough seas. This gave us three sea days in a row and the ship was tossing everyone around, I won’t say violently, but someone else might say it was violent. The pools have been closed for two days because of the rough water and the sliding roof is closed as well, they say they cannot open it because of the rough seas and it could slide back and forth. Not sure if that is true, it would be a bad design if that is the case.
They have a policy not to save pool chairs, but that is largely disregarded by our fellow cruisers. They say that chairs unattended for 30 minutes will have the towels removed and the chair made available to someone else. This is not heavily enforced by the staff, but the seniors on board are not shy about moving your stuff if they feel your chair had been empty for too long.
Towels at the pool are super easy to get. On other cruise lines we have traveled on, we have had to “sign-out” towels and then check them back in. It seems HAL is not concerned about missing towels, they are readily available to everyone and no one cares if you take one, three or thirty.
Our cabin is fine, plenty of room for two adults, I think our placement at the rear of the shop may have added to the queasiness we felt after a few days of rough seas, but that is to be expected, our room steward tried his best at pronouncing our last name each time we saw him, but he was attentive and thorough and I appreciated his attempt at the towel animals each night.
I also liked that this was a smaller ship. We have been on trips that have 5,000-7,000 passengers and on a ship of just 2,100 you are not standing around as much for food, or elevators or disembarking.
I am very glad to have experienced the Eurodam. It is not for everyone, But that doesn’t make it bad. I probably wouldn’t do it again, there are a lot of other cruise lines I might like to experience. But knowing what to expect before you go is important for any trip you take. I got what I expected from the Eurodam, I just think they could offer their cruisers a bit more.
If I was more ambitious I would have found a better snorkeling area....but it was fine for what it was.View All 28 Snorkel Reviews
We did the sea world explorer and it was just too long
We originally booked a city tour but after four hours on the bus tour and Aruba we decided to skip it. There was plenty to do and see in curaçao without taking an excursion.
Just not enough time at this port. We had to be back on board by 12:30PMView All 367 City Tour Reviews
Great tour..but also quite long. Bus ride was 1hr 20 mins each way then. 2 hours boat tour
We had originally booked the zip line canopy tour but our port was canceled due to rough seas