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Sail Date: September 2008
With vacation time at a premium this year, we decided to splurge on a 3-night introduction cruise for this brand-new ship for Labor Day weekend, and were excited to try a new cruise line. The good: Sailaway from New York This experience ... Read More
With vacation time at a premium this year, we decided to splurge on a 3-night introduction cruise for this brand-new ship for Labor Day weekend, and were excited to try a new cruise line. The good: Sailaway from New York This experience alone was worth the entire price of admission. Since it was the first journey for the ship, we received police helicopter escorts and a special fireboat tribute, as well as a spectacular sunset sailaway. Those things on top of the usual spectacle of sailing from New York with the eye-to-eye view of the Statue of Liberty and the breathtaking sail under the Varrazano Bridge made it an unforgettable night. Our stateroom (mostly) (See "plumbing problems" below). Stateroom was nicely appointed with toiletries, tub, DVD player, comfortable mattress and bedding, and other niceties. But it was much smaller than other comparable balcony rooms we've stayed in, and the layout was weird - if someone was asleep in the sofabed, it was nearly impossible to get on the balcony. Dining Choices We had "As You Wish Dining," but pre-booked the specialty restaurants Pinnacle Grill ($20 pp) and Tamarind ($15 pp) for the second two nights, and upon boarding, reserved Canaletto, the Italian restaurant within the Lido, for the first. All were perfection in service, food and atmosphere and we were very impressed. The reservation system (see "the bad") seems flawed but everything worked out. We never got to the main dining room. Retreat Cabanas We decided to try one of the much-debated retreat cabanas for one day, and it was a memorable experience we'd recommend to honeymooners and anyone looking for a peaceful getaway with nice service and lovely ocean views. Pool Atmosphere For the most part, the pool was quiet and relaxing. We did not miss the obnoxious activities and games and thumping rap/dance music around the pool that mark some other cruise lines. Wine and Liquor We brought our own champagne and wine, and happily paid corkage fees to enjoy them in the restaurants. We also enjoyed ordering our own bottle of vodka for before- and after- dinner cocktails. Hydro spa Though we'd prefer a single gender experience, the thermal chairs, showers, and hydro pool were a nice treat for a fairly reasonable fee. NY Times partnership Complimentary access to the NY Times online in the Explorations cafe, and mini-NYT newspapers delivered every day were a nice touch. The bad: Plumbing problems Our toilet overflowed the first morning of the cruise, and continued to flush itself and overflow repeatedly for nearly an hour while guest services summoned the plumber. We did receive a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and chocolates with a form apology note later that day. Embarkation/Lifeboat drill We were among the first in the terminal and weren't given a boarding number. We got attitude from the first HAL employee we asked, who suggested that we should board after group 9. Eventually, someone did help us. On the plus side, we were on board by 1:10, earlier than the advertised time of 3pm. The unorganized lifeboat drill took place at 9:30 Saturday morning, immediately after our plumbing drama, and ate up another hour of an already shortened morning. Disembarkation The process needs some help, more announcements, and more employees to direct traffic.   The "eh" (not good, not bad):   Family Programs "Club HAL" has a cute but tiny space dedicated to the program, and in our experience, it's not as robust a program as other lines offer. In 4 cruises, it was the first time my son had actually declined the program during part of the cruise. Even Club HAL was plagued with new-ship mixups. The much-promoted "Un-Birthday Party" on the last night was a bust because the cupcake order never showed up. It's the little things-especially when you're 6. A few kid-friendly items on the dining and room service menus, and a "family pool" with a shallow end (minimum depth was 4'5") would be a great addition.   Culinary Arts Center We were excited about the adult and children's programs here - but sadly, no classes for the 3 day cruise.The "huh?": Dining Reservation System We made reservations for Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind to coordinate with Club HAL hours. We received multiple confirmations with conflicting information about times. When we went to inquire about the problem, we were told, in one case, "well, there's a note here that you're dining at 8, but the reservation system will only allow 20 that time, so you're down for 9." So when are we eating, exactly? At the other restaurant, we were told "well, we have 43 people dining at 8pm and that's too many." Why did you overbook, then? Puzzling malfunctions The first time we tried to use the thermal spa and hydro pool, the access key cards did not work. We were told it was "because the ship was built in Europe, and it's still being adjusted to US time." The computer system in NY was not fully functional (or maybe the staff not really trained) when we checked in and it took three tries, two employees, and two computer terminals to finish our check-in. Even after that, one of our key cards didn't work. Elevators and rest rooms were randomly malfunctioning all three days, and an air conditioning problem left us sweating for all of the first morning (at the same time as our plumbing problems - fun!). Even with some of the issues, there were some truly high points on this short cruise. On the whole, though, we will probably not sail on HAL again for a while. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
This was our seventh cruise. My first cruise was a Bay of Fundy crossing to Nova Scotia in the 70's when I was a teenager. First cruise as an adult was RCI's Song of America NY to Bermuda 7/98. Second was Carnival's ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise. My first cruise was a Bay of Fundy crossing to Nova Scotia in the 70's when I was a teenager. First cruise as an adult was RCI's Song of America NY to Bermuda 7/98. Second was Carnival's Sensation Western Caribbean, 2/99. Third was the Regal Empress, NY to nowhere, also Labor Day, 8/99. Fourth was the Enchanted Isle, Western Caribbean, 4/00. Fifth was the Carnival's Victory, New York to Canada. Sixth was the Norway, Eastern Caribbean, July 2002. I loved the Norway, the Regal Empress so I am a fan of older, more traditional ships. When I drove up to the Eurodam, I was so impressed. The Victory was also in town, but the look of the Eurodam was so much classier. Embarkation was fine. I picked my husband up on 55th Street, we drove to the pier, he dropped me off with the luggage and went to park the car. We were docked at Pier 88 and according to my husband, got one of the last spots in that parking lot (our embarkation started at 1PM, last call 5PM, the Victory was earlier, they left at 5PM, we left at PM) because Pier 92, where the Victory was docked, was overbooked and those cars were sent to Pier 88. Apparently, Carnival has refurbished one or more of the piers in New York. Airconditioned, very comfortable. Embarkation took about 20 minutes. We were not escorted to our cabin. We wheeled our luggage on, so the luggage was not an issue. We had booked late and as a result got the last available cabin, an inside on the eighth deck. The cabin was sufficient, with a king size bed, desk, a table, several closets. The problem with the design, which I assume management figured out during the inaugural in Europe, was the door opened inward, there was not really room to hold the door open for room services, etc. So several door stops were supplied. The pools were gorgeous. Teak decking all around. And, at least on this cruise, never a problem to get a lounger, if that is what you are into. (I don't sun myself.) Rear pool was the "adult pool", mid ship pool with the waterfall was the "family pool". Lots of kids. The average age on this cruise was far below the (what is said about HAL) traditional HAL demographic. Food in the Lido was good to very good. Had the standard sandwich stations, omelette stations during breakfast, etc. They did have the place servings with silver ware, however, I never had my tray brought to the table, although, I did see that happen with an elderly couple. I thought the Lido food was second to only the Regal Empress, in terms of quality, taste and freshness. I was given "open dining". I do not like the concept. I would rather have had an assigned table in late dining. We did meet a woman who was cruising alone and decided that we would dine with her the other nights. We always met at the dining room at 8:45PM. I thought the food was okay, but I must say, I thought the food on Carnival, Regal, Commodore and RCI was better. The only line that was worse (remember, I am reviewing the dining room, not the Lido here) was Norweigian. The public rooms, hallways and stairwells were beautiful. Art work everywhere. No announcements other than the mandatory life boat drill. Hint on this,my husband had a cold on the trip and didn't do the life boat drill. The management theoretically did a roll call, didn't call my cabin. The shops were primarily diamonds and souvenir type. Activities were typical, although, instead of the belly flop or hairy man leg contests one experiences on Carnival or RCI, we have golf ball putting contests at the main pool.Just as annoying, just classier. The president of HAL was on our cruise. He had just done the inaugural transatlantic and was hosting the best producing travel agents on the cruise. As a result, alot the amenities that would have been available normally, such as the cabanas and spa treatments, were not available to the average passenger. For instance, I booked a $200 spa treatment for Sunday morning. I showed up, at 8:45AM, and was told the treatment was at 8:45PM. I asked if I could use the spa amenities (spa pool, whirlpool, thermal suite) and they said not until I had the spa treatment. How could I have a 90 minute spa treatment starting at 8:45 at night when the spa closes at 10:00PM. I pointed this issue out to them when I returned to my cabin and they did not really respond. I cancelled my spa treatment. I was not going to do a spa treatment at that time when I had to wake up at 7AM to get off the ship by 8AM. Formal night, more than 60% of the men were in tuxedos (including my husband, who rented his on land and brought it aboard), 50% women in gowns (including myself). After dinner, there was a string quartet in one of the lounges, however, they stopped playing at 11:00PM. I must say, versus other lines, there was not alot to do after 12 midnight. Because we are late night people, I do not know if we would cruise HAL again, despite our absolute love of the ship because of the lack of nightlife. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
My husband and I eagerly embarked on our cruise to nowhere on HAL's brand new ship, for it's maiden U.S. voyage. The embarkation process was the smoothest yet of my 14 cruises, with pleasant staff and efficiency. Our cabin was ... Read More
My husband and I eagerly embarked on our cruise to nowhere on HAL's brand new ship, for it's maiden U.S. voyage. The embarkation process was the smoothest yet of my 14 cruises, with pleasant staff and efficiency. Our cabin was attractive, but quite small for a standard veranda. HAL seeks to make up for space reduction with cabin design features, ie. storage inside desk seat/ottamon and adjustable and removable shelving in closets. The bedding, towels and robes are above-grade. The flat screen TV had a surprisingly limited number of available stations. The ship is easy to get around and attractive, with an elegant flare. The theater is spacious with comfortable seats, and there is a separate "Screening Room" for movies, which is small, cozy and comfortable. The public areas, bars and lounges are pleasant and well staffed. The Lido had some of the usual chaos and a shortage of various essentials, such as cream for coffee. The lack of self service for breakfast dishes such as waffles and eggs made for unnecessarily long lines. The food on the ship overall was of a decent quality as expected and the staff was generally helpful. The thermal suite and hydrotherapy area (for an extra charge) were worth it for us. The gym was ample and well supplied with quality equipment. The location of the spa is awkward, as the public passes through it to get to the pool and Lido areas on Deck 9. There were less enrichment activities than I expected on a Cruise to Nowhere, although the ones that we attended were of good quality. The shows were excellent, with the best in-house production talent that we have seen yet. The least appealing aspect of our cruise was signing up for Anytime Dining in the Rembrandt (the two level main dining room). Reservations for the selected times filled up quickly and upon arriving at our daily reserved times, there were always dinner lines to get seated. Those who didn't reserve at all had to wait longer. Next time, we will book assigned seating (late) and then go directly to our table each night. If you choose Anytime Dining, make your reservations (you can book up to to two days ahead) right as you get on the ship, either by going straight to the Rembrandt or by calling 88 on any ship phone. Sojourn Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
LET'S START WITH THE SKINNY ON THE FUN NEW EURODAM Frequently Asked Cruise Questions How's the morning coffee? --Good, and served in china mugs. How does the e-mail/internet connection work? --It's well-organized, veeeery ... Read More
LET'S START WITH THE SKINNY ON THE FUN NEW EURODAM Frequently Asked Cruise Questions How's the morning coffee? --Good, and served in china mugs. How does the e-mail/internet connection work? --It's well-organized, veeeery slow, but functional. What about Wi-Fi? --It's available throughout the ship, although some problems were reported with using it in cabins. Do the rooms have safes? --Absolutely, the best yet, capable of securing your laptop. Can I iron a shirt? Do a wash? --Nope, not on Holland America. Can you "promenade" the prom deck? --Yes, indeed, all the way around two decks. Are decks real wood, or linoleum? --Both. The Promenade Deck is composed of real wood panels, and the one two decks above is linoleum printed with the same wood panels shapes. INTRODUCING THE EURODAM -- After the pleasure of sailing a few other cruise ships in their debut year, I was hoping that a holiday weekend on the brand-new MS Eurodam from Holland America would be a sweet adventure, and indeed it happily exceeded all expectations. Built to the tune of $450 million by classy Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, this 86,000-ton vessel seems gracefully enormous as you stroll about the decks and pools and bistros, yet it's been crafted slim enough to fit through the Panama Canal, and can therefore be hailed as "Panamax." The ship has eleven decks and 1025 staterooms, with 67% balconies. With an additional deck for cabins built on top of a basic Noordam plan, the Eurodam has entered the Holland America fleet with 63 new staterooms more than their latest Vista-class ship, with 10 of the cabins said to feature floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall panoramic windows. Eurodam is fitted out with several of the features HAL regulars have come to expect, such as glass elevators that look to the water, a Pinnacle Grill (this one has handsome formal chairs), and a Greenhouse Spa. The ship boasts the latest state-of-the-art navigation and safety systems and brand-new Azipod propulsion technology. Other additions are the Explorer's Lounge, Canaletto, which is an Italian specialty section of the Lido, and a show lounge with theater-style seating where culinary classes are offered. There's also a new wine bar, but it has such ultra-modern decoration that it looks like an uninviting ice sculpture; on the other hand the photography gallery includes an intimate studio area for private shoots. MANHATTAN EMBARKATION -- Turned out to be surprisingly pleasant, especially considering the disorganized chaos of the disembarkation later. Although the Coast Guard had announced it was conducting exercises on the ship requiring embarkation to delay starting until 3:00, passengers arriving at 1:30 were able to come onboard immediately. And while the Manhattan dock is getting to be one of the oldest in the industry, much of it had been sufficiently refurbished to create a veneer of bright surfaces over the ancient boards. Several groups of lucky passengers in line around me had booked not only our introductory holiday weekend onboard but also the next sailing up along the Canadian coastline. THE STATUE OF LIBERTY -- Eurodam sailed away at 7:00 instead of 7:30 in order to greet Lady Liberty at sunset. Although it was cloudy and darker than might have been wished, many of the crew had never seen her and crowded onto the decks in their various uniforms to ooh and aaah and photograph themselves beside her. The city coming up in glittering nightlights was beautiful as ever; I'd forgotten how exhilarating it is to view the water-spouting fire-boat show down by the South Street Seaport; and fitting under the Varrazano Bridge was pretty spectacular as well, and certainly worth a snapshot or two. SHIP -- Everywhere we went onboard this beautiful vessel, passengers were enjoying a variety of activities, from heavily-attended bingo and poolside demonstrations, to afternoon tea and the "On Deck for the Cure" 5K which was "run" on the Promenade Deck as a fund-raiser to fight breast cancer. The ship felt quite stable at sea; she didn't "wiggle her bottom" as do many ships, or rock us to sleep, but that may have been because we were sailing at only 11.5 knots. It was pleasant to think how that might have attracted cresting dolphins if we'd been in the right area. The ship is covered with flowers. Tightly-packed mammoth flowers arrangements (perhaps Asian-influenced) grace hallways and entrances; hundreds of votive-lamp glasses with a single orchid blossom on tables influence the ambient fragrance of many of the bars and meeting rooms. STATEROOMS -- Cabins are fitted with blonde wood, grey carpet, and highlighted with touches of red; many verandas are furnished with wicker chaises and small tables. Cabins and hallways were impeccably cared for, and groomed with a pleasant-smelling rug deodorizer. With all the buzz around the industry, and indeed right here on the boards, about the "new bed program" in the various lines and ships, here is Eurodam coming right out of the gate with Euro-top Mariner's Dream bed-spread-free beds and and light blankets wrapped in duvet covers. Personally I still think the new bed program is basically an excuse not to purchase and maintain dressy bedspreads, but the high-rising bed was a comfort to my back. Cabins feature flat screen televisions with DVD players, massage shower heads, and really strong hair dryers. Many cabins had fresh flowers and complimentary fruit baskets, although not mine. Adjustable wall lights of the minute tenser variety are mounted above the bedside tables although they are nearly useless for nighttime reading. Although drawers in the desk area would have been appreciated, a side cabinet did provide two small shelves and the leather stool under the writing table had a removable top with room for storage. A small halo-lit magnifying vanity mirror built into the wall is not only convenient for the ladies, but creates a pleasant night light. BATH -- It was easy to navigate the highly familiar modular bathroom which was, if possible, a few square feet larger than on other ships, and the majority of staterooms are equipped with bathtub/showers. It was a pleasure as well being surrounded by brand-new bathroom surfaces, spanking clean right down to the corners, a still-pristine shower curtain, and the use of complimentary Elemis bath products. And Holland America has given me a new prospective on the bathrobe term "waffle" (which to me sounds like the non-suite inferior variety) because their new "waffle-terry" bathrobes were delightfully substantial and smooth to the skin, and ready in the room at check-in without a hassle. DINING ROOM -- Both levels of the Rembrandt Dining Room are graciously appointed with lovely furniture and, press shots notwithstanding, the tables come in a variety of shapes and sizes and most are in fact not of the cramped, thin-slice Vegas-show type. A smaller internal dining room, the Kings Room, is available for weddings and VIPs. What a sweet traditional touch it was to have a young crewman kitted out in scarlet bum-free jacket with epaulets marching up and down the hallways along the dining room deck with a small xylophone in hand ringing us in to dinner from our cocktails, just like cruises of old. The food was excellent, and most of the familiar cruise favorites were well-prepared and well-presented. Considering that every week we passengers are reported to consume over 300 cases of beer and 2000 bottles of Champagne & wine, a ton of watermelon, and 300 gallons of ice cream—one wonders where they manage to fit it all! And since debut ship seasons can be plagued by inexperienced staff unfamiliar with ship-life and struggling to learn table-service in a strange new culture, I'm glad to report what a privilege it was to enjoy the services of excellent, if sometimes slow, dining room staff and a really stellar cabin steward. LIDO DINING -The cafeteria dining area is furnished with rather appealing lemon-colored leather chairs and the poured-plexiglas tables are set with napkin-rolled silverware packets which make going through the lines easier. Freshly-squeezed orange juice available at breakfast is a real treat and fresh fruit -- and quite good coffee, urns for which have a dandy button feature that dispenses a neatly filled cup. Live phalaenopsis orchid plants decorate the tables, which are set with linens at night and table service is offered in certain sections. POOL LIFE - With pools both amidships and aft, much of the day was spent relaxing on deck enjoying the sunny ocean view. Eurodam has much expanded its poolside merchandising opportunities, with "Cabanas," small curtained-off rental areas each containing a circular king-size chaise and chairs along the starboard side of the pool, and also the new "Retreat" area with cabana rentals available topside and forward in the ship arranged around a center lounge area. Nearby "Spa Cabins" with special amenities add to the new Retreat experience. I especially enjoyed a deck forward and above the retreat area for my own sunning, and it was filled with the same comfortable wooden chaises which are dotted throughout the promenade deck below. Even with all the space taken up by the two areas of rented cabanas, there were still plenty of deck chairs available, though perhaps not as many by the pool. However, with the largest Jacuzzi available only for a hefty premium, Eurodam could definitely use two or three more hot tubs; they were crowded so constantly I never managed to set foot in one. EXPLORATIONS CAFÉ/CROW'S NEST - This area spans impressively the entire arc of the ship's front end topside. The portside corner is custom-fitted with crushed velvet sectional divans; there are sections of banquette framing part of the windows with easy chairs facing it and the ocean; and finally, right in the center are a dozen good-sized loungers perfect for the panoramic viewing pleasure of passengers overlooking the ocean. The Explorations Cafe, which is the Library/Coffee/Internet Cafe area, is quite pleasant with; I especially enjoyed the selection of current magazines library-mounted in covers, and there were plenty of computer terminals powered by the New York Times. While oppressively slow, the sign-on system had good functionality and allowed guests to take in the scenic backdrop of the ocean while keeping in touch with home. ENTERTAINMENT - Music was playing in several locations during most of the evenings. Several friends at our table thoroughly enjoyed the comic performer onboard and regaled us with stories of his performances. Both shows with song-and-dance production numbers, "Night Life" and "Dream Park," were energetically performed by four female and four male dancers plus singers, one girl and two guys, and a female trio of swing singer/dancers as well. Although two of the singers wore cheek-mikes wired to radio-packs, still nearly all the vocals seemed to be recorded with performers lip-syncing and live performing only minimally. Even then, they sang only in "karaoke" style, following the tape, but this is getting to be the custom now throughout the cruise industry. The shows made extensive use of colorful digital background images and some fireworks at the climax. SHIP'S MUSTER -- Chaotic and claustrophobic, this may not have been Eurodam's finest hour. While squashed in noisy military lines with my fellow passengers, I did discover HAL's admirable practice of demanding hospital-style ID-wrist-bands be worn by all children for the entire cruise, but taped instructions about how to put on a life vest were redundant since we were ordered to don them on in our cabins. Although it was the first time to see attendance taken being taken at a muster, administration might do well to visit other ships and see how it's done on other cruise lines. Rather than encourage an informed sense of safety, I predict Eurodam's ship's musters may occasionally incite episodes of panic. EURODAM CHRISTENING -- After enjoying her charms for a few introductory days, I was ready to appreciate viewing the July 1st Eurodam dedication ceremony included among the daily television offerings. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands presided over the festivities in a lovely orchid picture hat, formally naming her and ringing her bell, and there were steamers, a crashing Champagne bottle and spectacular music. Although it took place in Rotterdam, the service was conducted in English, but at the end all voices on hand joined in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony chorus and it sounded as though it may have been sung in Dutch. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
Embarkation: It was interesting. We were not supposed to be able to board until 3 PM, but there was speculation it would be earlier. We took a chance (and earlier train) by arriving early, and were onboard just before 1:30. That was a nice ... Read More
Embarkation: It was interesting. We were not supposed to be able to board until 3 PM, but there was speculation it would be earlier. We took a chance (and earlier train) by arriving early, and were onboard just before 1:30. That was a nice start. Everyone was being sent to the Lido (Deck 9) to eat lunch, but we walked up the 2 decks to Deck 4 and went to our aft Veranda cabin. We met our cabin steward, Anom, stowed our carryons, and went to the Lido to eat some lunch. Cabin: The cabin was very efficient with a flat screen TV (it should have been wall mounted), a mini-fridge (full of extra cost mini-bar drinks but room for our wine and water as well), a very comfortable bed, and quite a bit of wardrobe space. Hanging space and shelves are plentiful, but be warned that drawer space is very limited (2 small ones in each of the night stands). There is no lighting in the wardrobes and it was difficult to tell if we had cleaned out the safe except by feel. The bath was also efficient, but be careful when using the shower. The shower curtain is too short and unless you use the shower head as a hand-held (standing so the spray is toward the wall) the floor will be soaked when you are finished. Durability of the design might be a concern - wallpaper was starting to peel in the room and the flimsy shower curtain track had already pulled loose (I had to snap it back in). Service: All the staff we met were invariably friendly and willing. This was a high point for us. Was the delivery 100% seamless? Of course not, but the effort always seemed to be there and that rates high in our book. One nice touch was the Lido staff helping passengers (those who needed it) with their trays without being prodded. The staff in the Tamarind (outstanding), Canaletto's (excellent), Pinnacle (excellent), and the Rembrandt (excellent) were all worthy of mention. The overall staff in the Lido was also very good. Our cabin steward was good to very good and always seemed to deliver what we requested on a timely basis. Cleaning in the bath (hair in the bath before we ever used it) and cabin (vacuuming so-so and a rubber glove dropped by the veranda door one day) were somewhat spotty, but I think he was new. Public Rooms: A big disappointment. They seemed small (not intimate) like HAL wanted to build a 100,000+ ton ship a squeeze it into the Eurodam's 85,000 ton hull. The atrium is a real let down small with an odd pinkish-purple stalactite chandelier. It certainly did not seem to be the hub of the ship. The ship's daily bulletin listed 12 bars. That seems like a lot and resulted in small venues that, in many cases, seemed like passages turned into a lounge (Explorer's) to closed off the rooms (Piano Bar), to strangely decorated, uninviting areas (Northern Lights). The shops are in a setting like a cheap shopping mall with the same pull down security grates. Not inviting at all. The high points were the Screening Room (a great place to see a movie but seats for only 36 people!)and the Silk Den (a beautiful, calming bar across from Tamarind). Artwork is always subjective, but we enjoyed only a little - antiques, old photos, "theater" art pieces, and the asian decor in Tamarind and The Silk Den. Dining: Tamarind was just outstanding. We dined there for lunch (a no charge set dim sum that is a steal!) and it was excellent. The decor, service, and food were the best on the ship and we cannot recommend it highly enough. Book on-line before you go. Caneletto's is a separate area of the Lido and does not take on-line reservations. we dined there the first night and the food was again excellent. With no surcharge, it was another bargain. Pinnacle Grill was a disappointment. The decor was very attractive and the service was very good (I had no forks when we sat down), but the food was only average - tough filet (medium rare), warm (fresh but not hot) baked potato, and a so-so souffle (ordered in advance it should have been much better). Rembrandt's - a mixed bag. The Rack of Lamb was excellent but trying to pass off a thin lido breakfast pancake as a crepe is inexcusable. Activities: Not as many as one might expect. Perhaps it is the norm for HAL or it was the 3 night itinerary or the many TAs/media/VIPs that were supposed to be onboard but, with no ports, we expected a few more choices during the day. With a new ship, a few new twists would have been welcome. Instead we got the same old/same old. Even some that we would expect were not there - wine tastings, enrichment talks (perhaps on the long, distinguished history of HAL), etc. Casino: Small. Intermittent Hip Hop music seemed a very strange choice given the average age of the clientele. One plus is that it did not seem as smoky as casinos on other ships we have sailed. Spa/Gym: We toured these areas but did not utilize them. Other posters will be more qualified to comment. Pools/The Retreat/Cabanas: We did not use these facilities but they seemed very popular. Overall Organization: No one seemed to know when the Muster Drill would take place. We did not find out until it appeared in the daily bulletin - 9:30 the morning after sailing. We have never had it the next morning. I am not sure the shore personnel had any idea when Embarkation would take place, but we chalked that up to the Coast Guard inspection. Calling the boarding numbers was an adventure since you could not hear the gentleman making the announcement unless you were pretty close to him. Disembarkation was a real challenge and detailed below. Disembarkation: A disaster. The ship was to be cleared by 10:00 AM, but we docked late (how does that happen on a cruise to nowhere?). We were not taking HAL transfers (on Amtrak) so we were assigned Expedited Disembarkation and would take our own bags off. We considered this a real plus so we could by pass the usual traffic jam claiming bags and grab a cab to Penn Station. It was to be coordinated by deck. That was the last communication we had and resulted in a mass rush for the gangway when it opened. We were not even told the deck or location (forward or mid-ship). We were fortunate to be fairly close to the gangway (totally by luck since we decided to wait in the Explorer's Lounge) but others were caught in a real crush of people. At the hatchway there was a small child running around (no parents in sight) with a cruise card distracting the security guard from his duties. Horrible organization and communication. Overall Impression: Pretty average, which is disappointing for a brand new ship. No WOW factor. Some definite hits and a lot of misses as noted above. On the whole, an OK ship we would not purposely seek out to sail on again. We have to ask - is this the best of HAL or a disappointment for seasoned HAL passengers? Read Less
Eurodam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.5 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 3.7
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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