This cruise was a getaway from grey winter in my Midwest city. I had a lot of choices and settled on this one for two new ports and totally warm weather. I'm an experienced cruiser, a solo traveler of 76, and this was my fourth HAL ... Read More
This cruise was a getaway from grey winter in my Midwest city. I had a lot of choices and settled on this one for two new ports and totally warm weather. I'm an experienced cruiser, a solo traveler of 76, and this was my fourth HAL cruise. I liked the same things on this cruise as on other HAL cruises: nice shipmates, great crew, pleasant experiences, fun shore excursions, lots to do, not very crowded, very comfortable ship.
I liked the trivia games and their fun host, Monique. Every evening that I ate in the Dining Room I walked in without reservations and asked for a sharing table with 8 to 10 other travelers. I met 200 people in all 11 days. All of them were pleasant and interesting, and from many places. My room was a delight and my stewards the sweetest and nicest possible young men. I tipped them 50 dollars each, and the head housekeeper said that was lavish in the currency of their Indonesian country. But they earned it; my sons couldn't have been nicer to me. Of course, this was on top of the daily gratuity charge, much of which the stewards don't get. I really believe in abundant tips for good service, and I got it from Ari and Sya every day. I ate at Canaletto restaurant several evenings and it was superb; best of all the ship's food and service. This was only a $19 surcharge. The Dive In burgers were gorgeous, and the pizza bar wonderful too. Food is no problem on Eurodam!
Another plus was great entertainment from the Piano Guys in the Billboard Bar, and the fantastic always energetic BBKing band and singers. A tip: in the back of the BB King showroom are curved banquette-type seats, and these are far more comfortable than the theater seats, and with a better view. As for the mainstage shows, I felt really sorry for the ship's dance crew of six dancers who had to fill a stage and give energetic performances to canned music and in lackluster costumes. The impressionist was good and funny, but I skipped other mainstage shows. One of them was actually the history of Holland America Line via a film. I much preferred the music elsewhere.
The best advice I have is to FIRST don't get hurt on your cruise. Then, SECOND, get a higher floor than my deck 5 balcony cabin, because I had the gear for the lifeboats within inches of my balcony, and it kind of spoiled the view to look down on orange lifeboat roofs all the time. They also creaked and groaned during rough sea nights. I also found the balcony door so hard to open I had to do it two handed and if it had slammed on me, I know it would have knocked me down. I guess this is necessary, but it was really a daily problem.
I really enjoyed my In Room coffee there on the balcony in the sunshine and my In Room continental breakfasts were treats: fresh fruit and tiny Danish pastries. Invariably, the In Room staff called afterward to see if I enjoyed my meal, and I did. On my last cruise on another cruise line, this kind of service for breakfast had a charge of $7, but on Eurodam, all In Room Dining 24 hours a day is included in the fares. One morning I didn't order breakfast and the manager called up to say, "Don't you want anything to eat?" They had the best warm chocolate chip cookies too, and I enjoyed these with afternoon tea after my nap.
As a solo traveler, I have to pay two fares: my verandah cabin cost me what they call a supplement of 100%. A $1500 cabin is $3000. All cruise ships do this: I have no choice. But it doesn't put you in the mood to be mistreated, I can assure you. For my double fare, I expected and got a nice cruise that I enjoyed a lot. I can't fault Eurodam for anything a cruise should be for a traveler. I'm not a diva; I'll agree with anything that makes sense, but I expect my cruise for two cruise fares to be good. I always tell my steward exactly what I like and what makes me happy at our first meeting: with me, it's a lot of towels and a lot of ice. My cruise expectations were definitely met on Eurodam.
But, there was a great big skunk at this picnic. This is the first cruise where I was ever hurt on embarkation -- or hurt at all -- and boy, did the gloves come off in the TLC department. The wheelchair assistant who was supposed to help me board the ship in Ft. Lauderdale actually rammed into my ankle with the wheelchair. . I reported it as an accident the instant it happened, before I got on the ship. My ankle was bruised, swelling, raising a big goose-egg lump, and it was plain for all to see. This only increased over the next days. I I could walk with only small discomfort, although I couldn't stand up for long, and I did the rest-ice-elevate steps faithfully for hours. The pain only got to be a problem after 6 days. My foot and leg were purple up to mid-calf.
The ship's Guest Services Director was a charming man who wrote me a nice "sorry to hear about your accident" note and sent a lovely plate of chocolates. That was about all forthcoming from the ship. In the end, I got some aid, but I had to contact HAL home office and get a member of my care team at home to call too. I had to petition like a prisoner to a warden, and almost everything was refused at first, and only reluctantly given at last. I was refused gel cold packs, a medical exam, an xray, wheelchair for the long piers, and even some kind of bucket to soak my foot in up to my ankle. They told me at first I'd have to stand in line on and off in ports behind a hundred other people, although I just couldn't take it on my ankle. The ship claimed it didn't even have an ice bag or a bucket; they could only give me ice in a vegetable bag, like a baggie! They told me I'd have to pay for all medical services upfront and put in a claim later. It was just ridiculous. I lost my temper.
Let me add that I eventually got almost all I needed and without charge to my account. I did get to bypass lines. But I had to fight like 20 armies to get it. I found out, sitting around the medical office, that a lot of people were injured one way or another; much more than I'd ever expect to see. Most complained about inadequate responses, so I wasn't the only one. An experienced tip: You have to know that rough seas are inevitable and you have to hold on to a rail, be near a wall, not use stairs if you can help it. You have to get to your feet and then pause to balance, then walk. A cruise ship is moving and you aren't: it's you who has to adjust. There's long walks on a cruise ship. it can be tiring to get around. You can be sort of lunged without knowing it from side to side, and it takes good balance to get upright again. Everybody looks kind of drunk sometimes, swaying around. Hold on! The pool decks can be very wet, and it's not easy to get in or out of whirlpools.
I thought Eurodam didn't have enough signage. I was confused for days about going the right way or not. I did find that the glass elevators in midship are always fast to arrive: much faster than the central ones. But the decks aren't marked in the elevators except for numbers. You have to know, for instance, that Guest Services where we all wound up one time or other is on Deck 2. A clever idea from another traveler: they construct the public decks as models at home out of bits of paper and corks and things, and memorize them in the weeks before the cruise. I so wish I'd done that too.
I was determined to enjoy all my prepaid excursions, ankle or not. I always take ship-sponsored tours. In Aruba, I had a great day sailing on a catamaran. By far the oldest participant, everybody was very kind and gentle, handling me off and on the boat. I didn't snorkel, but basked in the warmth and drinks and Caribbean music. I found in every port the people of the islands were very helpful and thoughtful. t the Pelican's Nest bar stop, the hostess wired up my wifi for no charge and took my photo.
In Curacao, I took the country drive and enjoyed every minute. What an interesting place, with beautiful flora, birds, sea cliffs, nice beaches and salt flats. I loved it. The stop at the museum of a former black slave village was fascinating. I went crazy over the kind and variety of succulents: even saw fences made of cactus.
In Cartagena, through a mixup, I wound up on the highlights bus tour but I enjoyed it and bought an inexpensive emerald ring in one of the Poveda shops. There again, the bus driver and guide were very careful and thoughtful about my disability.
For the Panama Canal, which I'd done before twice, I stayed on my balcony and enjoyed waving and calling to the Canal workers who are very near the ship sides all day. I treated my swollen ankle with ice and heat and rest. You can view the bridge cam from the inroom tv, and see all the lock operations up close, with no need to stand on a deck. It was rainy, cool, and misty all day, so I felt very lucky to be sheltered. Leaving the Canal is just like entering the Canal, so you have two opportunities to see the operations, and by the afternoon one, almost everyone has cleared out and you get a great view from the bow. Also, the ship offered many shore tours to see the whole Canal, and most people took one of those. The ship was almost empty that day.
My favorite stop, hands down, was Puerto Limon where I took the rainforest aerial tram, one of the top travel experiences of my life. Two hours there in heavy traffic, two hours in the rainforest with lunch and the tram ride, and two hours back to the ship, with our guide Christian talking the whole time with great enthusiasm about everything in Costa Rica. I'm definitely returning there. Here again, our tour guide did everything to see I got a front seat to myself with plenty of room to elevate my foot and to help me on and off all our transportation. This was worth the $149 cost of the day, completely.
At the first day, we stopped at Half Moon Cay for a beach bbq and island stop, but it was sadly different than what I'd experienced before, and I wish I hadn't bothered. I would have never known there was some kind of transportation around the rather confusing complex if an employee hadn't casually mentioned it as I came in from the tender. We didn't have much time: by the time we tendered over and ate it was time to line up to go back by the 2pm deadline.
I only played $20 worth of slots in the casino, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. Mercifully, it was smoke free unlike most cruise casinos which stink up the whole deck. I did have a beverage package card which my travel agent arranged for me at a huge discount from the regular $500+ cost, and I enjoyed Prosecco and cocktails of new varieties all the cruise. If you wait till close to your cruise and make your case, you can usually get a nice discount on those beverage cards. I didn't use any spa services, as they were outrageously priced.. They had a ladies' evening for about $90 which sounded like it could be fun, but I didn't take them up on it. The spa was attractive, and I thought of acupuncture, but my acupuncture at home is $40 a session, and $159 on Eurodam. They offered all kinds of silly things like analyzing your footprint, but I didn't do any of them.
Bottom line of my long review: you'll like this 11 day Central America and Panama Sunfarer cruise as long as you don't get hurt. HAL will do a good job for you, but keep your back turned on that medical center. My ratings below are tainted by my injury, but I enjoyed everything I was able to do and you will too. Good cruising! Read Less