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Sail Date: March 2012
Detailed Review of Nieuw Amsterdam March 2012 NIEUW AMSTERDAM: 7-DAY EASTERN CARIBBEAN: Departure date: 03/18/2012. Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, At Sea, Grand Turk, San Juan, Saint Maarten, At Sea, Half Moon Cay, Fort Lauderdale. ... Read More
Detailed Review of Nieuw Amsterdam March 2012 NIEUW AMSTERDAM: 7-DAY EASTERN CARIBBEAN: Departure date: 03/18/2012. Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, At Sea, Grand Turk, San Juan, Saint Maarten, At Sea, Half Moon Cay, Fort Lauderdale. EMBARKATION PROCESS: I arrived at Pier 26 at 10:45am and waited until the terminal building opened at 11:15am. I was at the very front of the line and was among the first ten passengers to board after the suite guests. SHIP CONDITION: Excellent in all aspects with the exception of the water marked carpeting in the elevator lobbies. I'm sure this will be corrected during a future dry dock. DEMOGRAPHICS: HAL caters to a more mature, well-traveled group of individuals: I saw about a dozen guests under the age of 18, and another dozen guests under the age of 25. SHIPBOARD DECOR: Nieuw Amsterdam is elegant, traditional, and comfortable. Most furnishings are identical to Eurodam, however, I do prefer the Eurodam's darker color scheme and atrium light fixture. Nieuw Amsterdam boasts shades of brown, yellow, and beige in many of the public areas. ACCOMODATIONS: The accommodations are excellent, and in my opinion, are second only to those found onboard Queen Mary 2. The wall-mounted TV was a welcome addition to the standard verandah staterooms; however, it would have been nice had they kept the shelf above the desk to use for the serving tray and ice bucket. The stateroom attendants were friendly and asked what time would be best to make up the stateroom. I requested 10:00am and 8:00pm: Both attendants were waiting outside the door with a smile each day at these times. Upon arrival, the balcony door handle was broken, but was fixed within one hour. The key-card light switch was convenient: All lights can be turned off right from the door. MANHATTAN DINING ROOM: We were seated at a large table for second seating dining. Service in the main dining room was very poor for the first two days, but improved dramatically by day three. We we're told by the Front Office that the service issues were caused by a newly implemented runner system in the galley and that there were many complaints. Service was excellent from day three forward because the Yum Yum Man cleared all the plates from our table and poured our water. (He wasn't, however, available to give us ginger after dinner and didn't ring the dinner bell!) The Matre'D stopped by each subsequent evening and the Front Office called the stateroom two times to ensure that the service had improved. Service was impeccable from that point forward, and our waiter even brought out a large serving platter of lobster tails to replenish our plates on the second formal night. It was a nice, unexpected surprise. FORMAL DRESS CODE ADHERENCE: 90% PINNACLE GRILL RESTAURANT: This was my first time dining in the Pinnacle Grill after four cruises with HAL. The food and service was outstanding. After consulting some fellow Cruise Critics, I ordered the Lobster Bisque, Caesar Salad, Tantalizing Lamb Skewers, and the No-So-Baked-Baked-Alaska. I wanted to order items that are prepared or flambeed tableside for an added element to the dining experience and I was not disappointed. The Baked Alaska is a million times better than that served in the main dining room. I'll be back twice next cruise! I never made it to the Tamarind. LIDO BUFFET RESTAURANT: The Lido Restaurant was consistent with those found onboard Westerdam and Eurodam in quality and presentation. The fresh juices were a nice touch at breakfast, as always. I enjoyed the Steelite Brand crockery and coffee mugs used in the Lido and am looking to buy a set online. I always found a table straight away, and oftentimes ate outside on the back deck (non-smoking side). There are always tables with a view out there if you find yourself eating at a peak hour! GENERAL ONBOARD SERVICE: Excellent. Bar service is even provided on the top deck above the Silk Den and Tamarind Restaurant. Abel, a server who works on the open decks by day and in the piano bar by night, is outgoing, energetic, and quick to remember your name and favorite drink. He got high marks on my comment card. PORTS OF CALL: Having been to these ports numerous times, I was generally disinterested and spent most of my time onboard the ship. However, if you like to lie on the beach, Grand Turk is the stop for you. There is plenty of shade on the beach, which is only a short walk from the pier. WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS: The weather was fantastic: Warm and sunny with the occasional five-minute tropical burst of rain. Moderate to heavy swells affected the ship until reaching San Juan, but calmed afterward. I was surprised at how little the ship creaked and vibrated after two turbulent voyages on Eurodam. ENTERTAINMENT AND SHOWTIME: The entertainment was the only negative to this cruise. I felt that the quality of the entertainment was nowhere near on par with what I experienced onboard Eurodam and Westerdam. To be fair, this could be because I had many of HAL's well-known entertainers on my previous sailings: Joel Mason, Jimmy Maddox, and Jonathon Hawkins, all in the same week. The production shows featured four male singers and two female singers, instead of the typical foursome. There seemed to be fewer dancers as well: Maybe everyone just wanted to sing? In my opinion, the "NYC" show was not good. Instead of using props, a bright (blinding) LED screen offered vistas of New York City. "Cantare" and "It Takes 2" were slightly better. The comedian, Jeff Nease, was funny and worth seeing. He acted out a scene with a passenger similar to the I Love Lucy episode, "The Handcuffs," in which Lucy had to use her arms in the place of Ricky's from behind the stage curtain. MUSIC: Every venue on the ship seemed to close earlier than on my previous HAL cruises. There was nothing open after the show except the Casino and the Piano Bar, where Piano Man Eric sang until 11:30pm. Piano Man Eric is on his second four-month contract with HAL, and previously sang for Carnival Cruises for seven years. He was decent, but didn't interact with the guests like Piano Man Jimmy. I did listen to Jenny and the HAL Cats on the pool deck and in the Queens Lounge, but the open times usually conflicted with late seating dining. I recommended on my comment card that Adagio Strings begin playing at 7:00pm in the Explorer's Lounge instead of 8:00pm. This would give late seating diners another place to listen to music before dinner. The Explorer's Lounge was always full of people waiting to enter the dining room, but there was never any music. I didn't bother much with the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar because the band was on break more than they were singing. BEHIND THE SCENES SHIP TOUR: I was one of five passengers to take advantage of this tour during the cruise. The tour costs $150 and is worth the price if you're interested in what goes on behind the scenes on a cruise ship. Our group met the onboard marketing director, Marc Jacobs, in the piano bar and toured the crew-only areas for three hours. We visited and spoke with department officers in each of the following areas: backstage at the theater, the laundry room, the sewing room, the control room, the engine room, the water desalination plant, the ships generators, the food and beverage stores, the incinerators, the garbage room, the bakery, the Manhattan Restaurant galley, the Pinnacle Grill galley, and the navigational bridge. The highlight was touring D Deck, located three decks below the waterline. A steep staircase, similar to a swimming pool ladder, provides access to the engine rooms. Although very noisy, it was well worth the climb to see an area of the ship that few passengers ever visit. Decks B, C, and D are so disorienting: It is a completely different world. The tour was very informative, and I learned so much about the operations of the ship. On the other hand, this tour made me realize how poor the conditions are onboard for the technical/mechanical crewmembers. Everywhere we walked, I saw dozens of crewmembers sitting on the steep staircases on B and C Deck, taking breaks and taking with each other with hardly any room to move. The food waste I witnessed during the tour was also shocking. The tour reminded me not to waste food in the Lido Restaurant and to always be overly courteous and friendly with the crew. The tour ended with cocktails and Hors d'oeuvres in the Crow's Nest and the presentation of a bag full of souvenirs. This tour also gave me amble opportunity to speak with the onboard marking director and hotel manager about my aspirations to work for a cruise line. DISEMBARKATION: As per usual, self-disembarkation was called at 7:30am and was very convenient. BOTTOM LINE: I will certainly be back on a Holland America sailing. For some reason, I do prefer Eurodam, but I had an excellent experience on this cruise: HAL continues to provide a premium mass-market experience. While it is obvious that Holland America Line is not a luxury line, HAL does provides some special touches that make you feel like more than just a number. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
The title says the most important things about the recent cruise my wife and I took aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. The gracious and attentive crew of HAL ships, the backbone of HAL's reputation, was all that we expected it ... Read More
The title says the most important things about the recent cruise my wife and I took aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam. The gracious and attentive crew of HAL ships, the backbone of HAL's reputation, was all that we expected it would be. The Indonesian stewards in the cabins and the dining area, as well as the cleaning crew, were extremely polite, friendly, and attentive to our needs. Never did I pass an Indonesian crew member without seeing a smile - not once. I never walked from forward to aft without seeing one of the crew cleaning a public area of the ship. The Filipino bartenders, bar stewards, and Front Office crew were warm and kind, knowledgeable and funny, and gracious. Michael (a.k.a. Boozee), Henry Jr., Henry, Bill, Mac, Antonio, Ronaldo, Jenny, and Liany were exceptional in the bar staff. Bong, R.J., Pierce, Abigail, Jola, and Jodi were exceptional at the Front Office. Jodi, the Guest Relations Manager, made us feel welcome as soon as we came to the Lido Deck. Unlike on other cruise lines, the officers of the ship were polite and attentive in their interactions with guests. There were only two disappointments on the cruise: the Entertainment Department as a whole, and a dearth of variety in the night time Showroom at Sea entertainment lounge. As a former entertainment staff with HAL, I feel compelled to be more thorough in this part of the review. Individually, the members of the department and the cast of the shows were very nice and did a very good job - whether that was in the Showroom at Sea, running their respective events, or striking up conversation in the public areas of the ship. Those of special mention are Sam and Kevin from the cast, who were wonderful on stage and very nice socializing on the Lido Deck, JC the Cruise Director, who was clever and funny and a great host in the nighttime game shows, Ashley, who hosted the Culinary Demonstrations, Ian, the Travel Guide, keyboardist, and Good Morning Nieuw Amsterdam co-host - a true Renaissance man - and Jenny, the singer in the house band, the HAL Cats, on the ship. Again, the individuals did a very good job, but the department failed to deliver the type of entertainment experience that HAL used to have when the department consisted of Assistant Cruise Directors instead of the current Explorations Team: a "Lifestylist", "Party Planner", "DJ", "Techspert", and "Travel Guide". I won't blame the individuals; the team is pigeon-holed in its current lineup. When you label someone a "Techspert" or "Party Planner" instead of the omnibus "Assistant Cruise Director", one tends to focus solely on those things under her title. While it's true that having a Lifestylist allows that person to dedicate herself to yoga and tai chi and seminars about healthy lifestyles, it also prevents them from being the type of all-around entertainer, social bon vivant, and Jack-of-all-trades that gives spark and flavor to cruise ship entertainment teams. The department would have benefitted greatly from having two or three dedicated assistant cruise directors who were tasked with the generic but essential job of making sure the guests are having a fun time. As for the lack of variety in the Showroom lounge, I don't blame the cast for that either. The cast was good, and the all-male singing group known as Cantare was an ambitious and excellent new show with select cast members, but where were the magicians, the jugglers, the concert pianist or guitarist, the impressionists, etc.? The entertainment lineup was roughly this: the usual introductory night on the first night of the cruise - a very enjoyable affair - one movie-night (aboard a ship that already has a dedicated screening room), one night for a comedian, and four nights of cast shows - four nights. This cruise would have benefited mightily from a Joel Mason, a Julie Barr, a DV8 Reality Magic, a Bob Cates, a Jeff Burghart, or other supremely entertaining act. When it comes to it, however, my wife and I cruise for the hospitable and gracious and service-oriented South East Asian crew, the excellent food, and the wonderful interior of HAL ships. We can easily pass the days and nights at the various bars visiting, drinking, and conversing with our favorite Filipino bar staff, eating at the excellent restaurants aboard, and enjoying the amenities of HAL's newest cruise ship, the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Having been thoroughly impressed by HAL and the Noordam in December I decided it would be fun to try our their newest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. The 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise has once again exceeded my high expectations to the point ... Read More
Having been thoroughly impressed by HAL and the Noordam in December I decided it would be fun to try our their newest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. The 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise has once again exceeded my high expectations to the point that I will most definately be back for more. Embarkation at Port Everglades was simple and efficient with ground staff Elena remembering me from my previous cruise and expediting my check in. I was onboard the ship within about 50 minutes of arriving at the terminal and was immediately impressed by how stunningly beautiful the Nieue Amsterdam is. Previous cruisers with Holland America are invited to take a leisurely lunch in the MDR where the food is excellent. After a very pleasant 4 course meal followed by coffee I headed for my stateroom where the bag had duly arrived and got settled in. The safety drill is taken extremely seriously as you would expect and does not start until every single stateroom and guest is accounted for as being present and correct. We departed on time as part of a procession of ships leaving on Sunday afternoon, including the Celebrity Solstice, the Allure of the Seas, HALs Westerdam and a Carnival ship. I have an inside cabin for the first time in my 4 cruises to date and was a little concerned I would feel cramped. In fact quite the opposite, as a single traveler a queen size bed with bathroom and shower is more than adequate and on Holland America, quite comfortable. The beds are excellent and storage space more than sufficient. I have taken to using their laundry option where they will do a bag of washing for 20USD a time or 49USD for the week. Given the 24 hour service where everything comes back clean and folded to me this is a no brainer. It also means I dont need to take a large suitcase full of clothes. During the 7 days I ate twice, the 2 formal nights in the Pinnacle Grill, run by my favorite Maitre D on the seas - Sam. This is a truly professional operation with superb meat and I have a personal favorite of the bone in rib eye steak. One evening meal in the Tamarind Grill which sits on the 11th floor mid ships with big window views out to sea. Again culinary perfection and staffed by an outstanding team. Both these restaurants have a supplement of 25 and 15 dollars respectively and are worth every penny in my book. Food and service in the main dining room throughout was of a very high quality, where I had breakfast and lunch on most days. I know Holland America have had a reputation of catering to an older group of passengers. I found a great cross section of folks on this cruise and families with well behaved children and while a mainly US/Canadian based passenger make up, also quite a few Europeans, including myself from the UK. To me that slightly older group equates to a more civilized environment. I am 49 and cruise to relax and get away from a hectic business life. HAL fits that need just about perfectly in my case. Our stops were Grand Turk which I love, parked alongside the Costa Atlantica I knew which ship I wanted to be on of the 2. A great beach and I didnt leave the cruise port terminal, but shopped and sat listening to music and reading a good book. On the apporach to San Juan, the Nieuw Amsterdam crew open access to the bow of the ship on deck 5 which is a first for me I which I truly enjoyed as we sailed into the port and docked. From San Juan onwards to St Maarten where we are parked next to the Allure of the Seas and the Norwegian Dawn, as you can tell I love seeing ships. I took the two flags tour of the island where they take you across to Marigot on the French side of the island. Our last stop was at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas which I have been to three previous times but where we were unable to tender because of the height of the swells. This time we were lucky and the island is a great place to stop, with a great beach and views back to our own ship and the Maasdam. I saw three of the shows, the comedian who I enjoyed very much, a group of 4 guys who sing and the New York show, which was one of the best productions I have yet seen at sea. All good entertainment. I enjoyed coffees in the Crows Nest each morning and has been mentioned before, the Filipino bar staff run an excellent operation throughout the ship, special kudos to Agustin in the Ocean Bar who was good company. I dont buy art on cruise ships or have a particular interest in the cruise lines photography department, being an avid photographer myself I like to take my own pictures but always found the staff to be friendly and not pushy. I think special mention of the cabin attendants is always appropriate, what these guys do twice a day is something of a miracle in my book. They know what time you get up, go out, come back and juggle a large number of rooms and leave you a towel animal on the bed every evening which made me smile each time. The same can be said of many of the departments that you never meet, including the laundry folks. I found the cruise director JC to be amuzing and entertaining and the ships officers always friendly and willing to talk. Its fair to say that this whole crew onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam seem to work well together and are happy. That reflects well on how they treat us, the paying passenger. It is always good to see many members of the crew take a bow at the end of this presentation the day before debarkation. As was explained in the debarkation talk, HAL have removed the 10 as a mark for each of the elements on the passneger survey, on the grounds that everything can be improved. The maximum mark is a 9. When I look back at this particular trip and wonder what they could have done better, the answer that I find is just about nothing. Getting off the ship was a breeze and they give you a time and stick to it. When they call your number I was off the ship within 5 minutes and directed to where my bag was. Using the ships arranged transport back to Miami airport also simplifies the transport options. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We arrived at Port Everglades from our flight from Baltimore around 11:30am and were in our cabin within a hour. Our veranda stateroom was perfect with ample storage and closet space. Our luggage fit under our bed. I had ordered a beer ... Read More
We arrived at Port Everglades from our flight from Baltimore around 11:30am and were in our cabin within a hour. Our veranda stateroom was perfect with ample storage and closet space. Our luggage fit under our bed. I had ordered a beer package and a bottle of Bailey's as going away gifts for my husband's birthday and they were in our room waiting for us upon arrival. The Bailey's was nice to have as a pre-dinner cocktail on our veranda, watching the sunset before heading to dinner each night. Life doesn't get much better than relaxing, watching the sun set, feel the mild warm breezes and sipping Bailey's. We also found several welcoming notes and birthday greetings from the ship as well. Our luggage was waiting for us when we came back from lunch-the quickest arrival I've seen with any of our cruises. All the ports were great; snorkeling in Turks was awesome, walking Old San Juan was a memory builder as we were able to find the entrance to the old cemetery next to El Morro (very sacred space)and leisurely walk among the marble and granite statues and grave sites. Since we've been to St. Martin twice, we enjoyed the day taking the water taxi into town and walking the "boardwalk" and taking a dip at the beach near the taxi dock...can't get any easier. The food was very good throughout our cruise and we only had to wait about 15 minutes one night to get a table on Formal Night as we had "as you like dining". The entertainment was enjoyable and I really got a hoot out of the "Morning Show" with Ian and JC...this was a really nice touch and new addition as it starting the morning off on a really jolly note. Their bantering back and forth was very amusing and you could tell they really enjoyed each other. The weather was "to die for"...breezy and warm. We saw 2 rainbows, one a double, during this cruise and this was a first for me. One rainbow looked like it ended right on the isle of St. Martin...definitely a "pot of gold" to be found as St. Martin is lovely. We opted for the "expedited" disembarkation and we were off the ship and in the airport by 8am..could not ask for anything more efficient. This was one of our best cruises; no complaints and will likely book our next cruise with HAL within the next 12 months. Totally recommend HAL and this ship! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
Most important for us, the food was outstanding! We are all serious foodies and on other cruise lines felt we had to pay an upgrade to eat in the specialty restaurants to have adequate meal quality. We did eat in Pinnacle grill one night ... Read More
Most important for us, the food was outstanding! We are all serious foodies and on other cruise lines felt we had to pay an upgrade to eat in the specialty restaurants to have adequate meal quality. We did eat in Pinnacle grill one night for dinner (excellent) and many mornings for breakfast (a suite amenity). The Tamarind was also good. However, every other night we ate in the main restaurant for no extra charge. Across the board every course was fabulous. It would rival any of the James Beard award winning chefs we go to at home. The choices were interesting and each dinner forks were flying back and forth across the table with "you've got to try this!". The ship is very well run. Everything was smooth and staff was lovely. We did not feel like we were being pushed to buy extras constantly. The crowd is older. That made it a little slow for the teenagers (who as a result hung with us!) There were probably as many walkers slowing down traffic on this cruise as strollers on other lines. However, the seniors weren't throwing tantrums and went to bed early so there were plenty of seats at the late shows. No lines on workout equipment. Overall it was a good trade. The shows did seem more targeted for a Lawrence Welk set. We had a suite beside the penthouse. No noise or smoke complaints. The Neptune lounge was a very nice upgrade. Compared to regular suite on Celebrity and Owner's suite on Norwegian this was a great experience and we are thinking about going back on HAL in November. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Departure Port Everglades, FLL. As always everything is near in FLL ( airport, pre-cruise hotels and Port Everglades )so in no time we were ( a party of six )at terminal 26. Got there around 11AM, smooth embarkation, no hassle with our ... Read More
Departure Port Everglades, FLL. As always everything is near in FLL ( airport, pre-cruise hotels and Port Everglades )so in no time we were ( a party of six )at terminal 26. Got there around 11AM, smooth embarkation, no hassle with our "allowed" wine bottles, and we were on the ship about noon: staterooms(3) ready and luggage already there.Greeted by June,our Steward,who did more than you can ask for for the 14 days.Do these guys really sleep sometimes? The ship was clean, well maintained,no signs of wear and tear as on a previous cruise on HAL Zuiderdam.Nothing intrusive as far as HAL is concerned, discrete cruise directors ( there was a switch for the second week), occasional PA announcement, low level background music (60-70-80)at the AFT pool deck, well nothing to wake you up if you were taking a nap - the Carnival ships were providing that when they were sailing around us - and for the first week a nice crowd in their mid 50 for the most part, a "young crowd" compare to previous HAL cruises we did. Few well behaved kids and teens. Food was to HAL/Celebrity standards in the main dinning room with no need to go to "upscale restaurants" unless you would like to really treat yourself as we did in the Tamarind a few times.We always ate around 8PM, no waiting and the busboys were efficient, and very friendly witch is new to us on HAL. On previous sailings the Indonesian personnel mainly were "too"polite" and reserved ... what a change on this cruise:smiles and friendliness across the board! Special kudos to Aris an Putu and Frank the wine cellar master. The lido buffet for breakfast or lunch or whatever during the day or night had excellent and world cuisine choices with very small waiting except for the first 48h where you get served re:sanitary precautions which is OK with me. NO SANITARY problem,norovirus or otherwise,on this cruise! As always, the dessert extravaganza by the main pool on the last day at sea is something else. No comments on entertainment, we did our own ! We did not attend any shows but were told they were OK! No class or seminars, we were on VACATION, but those attending had good words. No "donation" to the casino and most bars were at best half full at peak hours. The classical music string quartet was performing to 4 to 5 people at best but the line dancing parties were crowded. Smoking was non intrusive, barely restricted on all open decks with well marked and respected areas as well as on balconies without any complaints by smokers or non smokers.WELL DONE HAL. Other lines should copy the way you are handling this sensitive issue.Everybody ( including crew members ) was happy. No crusade on this ship! Ports of call: Grand Turk:Been there 3 years ago and swear I will never return, but this time all is clean, well organized, dunno what they did to the beach but the sand was almost Half Moon like and the huge pool is magnificent as is the snorkeling for those interested.The rest of the island: forget it. San Juan: Old city always nice to walk around and take your time. Sint Marteen: Well on this itinerary ladies this is your place for shopping, no St-Thomas but still. Get a cab and go around the island, mainly on the french side. It will cost you $25 ea for a 3 hour get around. It is worth it. Half Moon Cay: Wish I could stay forever. Transit in FLL - Required for all B2B cruises. Be warned the ship must be empty for customs purposes before new passengers can get on board, meaning that everybody must get of the ship.I you have no plan for the day you will spend 2 to 4 hours in a closed space before re-boarding the ship. Advice: take a tour grab a cab rent a car and spend your day around ( We went to South Beach )otherwise this will be a long and lost day ! Second leg of this trip. As smooth as the first week was, this second week was partly a nightmare for the simple reason that a huge booking was made by Country Financial/Cotton States Insurance. These people were on the party, animals, drunk, loud invading the pools yelling in hallways late at night ... I guess there were many complaints because it toned down a bit after 48 hours but resume on the last night. Not HAL fault but those animals can ruin your vacation! Half Moon Cay: I wish I would have stayed there ... It was cancelled re: strong winds ( Tenders ). Grand Cayman: not much to do but shopping, most clerk looked bored, not a favorite. Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras: We were told Roatan was the pits. But hold down, this place Mahogany Bay, a secluded HAL paradise is brand new, nice vegetation, forest pathways, Zip Line, gorgeous beach with a lot of shaded areas and the locals are very friendly and not eager to get your bucks.Some shopping ... a must according to the ladies! A place to return Costa Maya: Well Mexico is Mexico - army all over with dogs and riffles, aggressive sales clerk. If you did the i95 to get down to Florida, this is like Pedro at South of the Border between N and S Carolina ... What can I say more. Did an excursion to Chacchoben ( Mayan ruins ) ... Seems worth it but it poured for 30 minutes, everybody was soaked and the whole thing was cancelled while the ruins' walking tour began. So we did 2 hours riding a bus for a glance. No body's fault. The only rain we had in 2 weeks but it was there! So that's it ... HAL you do it right ...Getting younger but intimate and reserved. Way to do it in my opinion. Thank you for baring with me. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Thoroughly enjoyed this cruise! My only complaint was having to stand in line for concerts (not the ships's problem but probably due to the venue, etc.) We received excellent treatment by all ship staff we encountered; they were ... Read More
Thoroughly enjoyed this cruise! My only complaint was having to stand in line for concerts (not the ships's problem but probably due to the venue, etc.) We received excellent treatment by all ship staff we encountered; they were friendly and seemed willing to go out of their way to assist us. We have great respect for the ship's captain as he kept excellent communication with us--our ship was diverted to an extra island due to severe illness of one of the passengers, and he made the decision to do this diversion for that passenger's needs (so that person could be transported to the States); since that put the ship behind and would have drastically shortened the next port day for the rest of us, he chose a different port of call which seemed to work out fine. I was surprised to find out that the safety drills are now done without actually wearing life jackets; but this was handled very seriously, and none of us could leave until every passenger attended. The ship was very clean even though some of its furnishings are starting to show their age. We loved our cabin--it is one of 2 verandah rooms with a double balcony on this ship. For the most part, we heard little noise from hallways or other rooms. The bed was very comfortable. Room service was very good. At first, we were disappointed our hotel (not booked thru HAL) did not get us to the FLL port until ~2 P. M.----but this was great as embarkation only took ~15 minutes since there were no lines by that time! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2012
A CATTLE CALL The best day of the cruise was Day 7 when we were packing to get off. In hindsight, we should have left the ship in St. Thomas, mid-way through the cruise and saved ourselves all this aggravation. One afternoon my wife ... Read More
A CATTLE CALL The best day of the cruise was Day 7 when we were packing to get off. In hindsight, we should have left the ship in St. Thomas, mid-way through the cruise and saved ourselves all this aggravation. One afternoon my wife and I were in one of the bars during Happy Hour, and when the waiter delivered the drinks, I ask him for a small table to set our drinks on, and he told me they were all being used, and to find one myself. This pretty much sums up our experience on the Eurodam. "Go find it yourself!" This was the most dysfunctional cruise I've ever taken, and I've been on 30 cruises with 10 on Holland America. The Eurodam is a Caribbean behemoth. She's too big, too loud, too crowded and far too mediocre to be in the distinguished HAL fleet. Plus she vibrates 24 hours a day! At the appointed time we went to the life boat drill. I believe in these safety drills. In all of my years of cruising, I've never missed one. But the disaster on the Concordia has changed this calm, organized procedure into a nightmare. We were pushed around at our life boat stations, and verbally abused with announcements from the bridge. In a real emergency evacuation, the crew would have killed us. We waited a long time for missing cabins to come forth. There seemed to be a bounty on the heads of those not there -- as if HAL offered cash incentives to any officer who captured the missing. The whole process was very abusive -- it was a witch hunt. Although we were standing on deck in Fort Lauderdale, we were suffering the consequences of the Concordia in Italy. It was (ex) Captain Schettino who did not sound the emergency evacuation until 1 ½ hours after the crash. By then, at night, in total darkness, many of the life boats couldn't be lowered because the ship had listed too far on its side. It wasn't the fault of the passengers! The Concordia has forever changed cruising -- deep seated paranoia has set in. My feeling is the Concordia was abandoned twice by two highly paid cowards. The first by Schettino, the international playboy in command of the bridge that fateful night of January 13, and the second was by the chairman of the Carnival Corporation who watched his basketball team play instead of going to Italy to support the victims and the families of the deceased. Schettino mentally collapsed. What was Arison's excuse? This is no way to start a vacation as the mean-spirited embarkation extended throughout the cruise. There was no sense of hospitality aboard this ship. No one was there to help with anything. You waited in long lines just to ask a simple question. The Lido Deck was in chaos. In order to get coffee, you waited for a coffee mug, then you waited your turn at the coffee machine, then you waited for cream, and then waited for a spoon -- you get the idea. (Why isn't a spoon included in the silverware set?) Getting food on the Lido was a hardship -- doing anything on this ship was a hardship. People bumping into each other -- no trays, no help, no service. It was survival of the fittest! The pool areas were also dangerously overcrowded. In order to generate additional revenue, HAL decided to add six outdoor cabanas along the corridor of the inside pool. Twelve people occupied an area that would have accommodated one or two hundred. The weekly yield on those cabanas was a paltry $1200. Thousands of people were inconvenienced for $1200. There was no room to walk along side the pool, we were walking over lounge chairs looking fervently for a place to sit, plus they were running t-shirt sales in the remaining space. It was worse in the main dining room. In the evening, the service was so tortuously slow, we sat there for 2 -- 2 ½ hours just to eat dinner. We gave up after day 3. (Holland America could expedite dinner by combining the appetizer, soup, etc., and quit fussing around with countless pieces of silverware and small plates. Have salads, dressing & a relish tray pre-set on the table -- it's banquet service, simplify it!) On the Eurodam, you have to pay to play. We took refuge in the specialty restaurants, and paid additional money that put this trip way over budget. We felt we had no other choice if we wanted to salvage this vacation. (Again, we should have got off in St. Thomas.) I kept trying to figure what was going on here. First of all, the Canadian captain was so arrogant and full of himself. He loved to pontificate during loud ship announcements, although he never said anything of substance. This cruise seemed to be about him. The most respected captains are mature, quiet, low keyed and self assured as opposed to immature, insecure and controlling. They say very little because they get it! Also, it didn't appear as if the captain and the hotel manger communicated. You never saw them walking the ship together. You never saw them at all. I felt the overworked cruise director from Australia was running the ship. Although he was trying his best, the passengers were neglected. There seemed no attempt by any of the officers to help with overcrowded conditions or lack of service on the Lido Deck. It was truly every man for himself. We had to go searching for silverware at the Lido. Most of the time, there we no coffee cups. And when you ask someone for a cup, they ignored you and started doing something else. First we were abused, then ignored, then ultimately neglected. The only well run department was housekeeping. Hey, Holland America -- we want our money back! And what about our time off from work? We waited all winter for this vacation, and you failed miserably on the promise of a "premium" cruise. Seasoned cruisers have little patience for expecting one experience and getting another. We were not even recognized as Mariners -- no pins, no awards, nothing. I would not recommend this ship for an experienced traveler. If you are handicapped, or have a loved one who is, they do not belong on the Eurodam. Nobody, other than another kind passenger, will help them, and they would be trampled on Deck 9. The ship has an annoying vibration as well. I met a metallurgist on board who sails often with HAL, and he told me that the Eurodam and the Nieuw Amsterdam are both floating tuning forks. The vibration could be due to degradation of the ship's origin design, or a resonance due to metal fatigue. The vibration is most noticeable on Deck 11 -- the higher you go up, the stronger it is, and it's strongest when the ship is at full speed. Holland America has tried to figure out where it's coming from, to no avail, and the vibration is there 24/7, even when the ship is docked. I noticed it most when lying down. The cabin pulsated, like a stuttering effect. Simply put, the Eurodam is a lemon. I've written a long report because the Eurodam is a very poorly run ship, and even the staff at Half Moon Cay is not providing good service. To visit the private island, you now get on a 300 passenger tender. The natives running this tender will not help you on, they won't take your bag or even say good morning. The staff on the beach will not help you find chairs or assist in any way. The natives who serve as life guards were rude, yelling to each other back and forth across the beach. Holland America is not paying attention. Again, everything was slipping through the cracks because NO ONE CARED! It would help if the limited crew on board spoke English. Room service orders were never filled correctly because the woman taking the order doesn't understand the language. Again, we didn't experience the traditional warmth and genuine hospitality found on other HAL ships. I believe The Eurodam is nothing but a training ground, a farm club so-to-speak, for the super stars like the Amsterdam and Rotterdam of the Holland American line. When we were leaving port one day, the captain was bellowing out from the bridge about the "Mighty E". The voice of the Mighty E sounded mighty stupid. The ship kept blowing its horn to summon people well before the time to leave port. What's the big rush? I've never heard Holland American ships blast away like this. We've sailed for years and never knew there was a horn. The Mighty E made me mighty nervous because we were subject to a big ego from the bridge, complete apathy from the supervisory staff and total neglect from a poorly trained crew. The Eurodam was run like a cargo ship. It was a cattle call, and I wouldn't go back on, even if it was free. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Hello, after a week on the Eurodam and having already made cruises with other companies (princess, msc, royal caribbean ...), I would like to express my general dissatisfaction on the services provided and the relationship with the ... Read More
Hello, after a week on the Eurodam and having already made cruises with other companies (princess, msc, royal caribbean ...), I would like to express my general dissatisfaction on the services provided and the relationship with the various teams: - I had to report a problem with the bathroom : indeed impossible to have a constant temperature, especially in the shower (the water goes from cold to hot), despite several interventions, the problem has never been resolved; - problem of evacuation of water in the sink in the bathroom: problem solved within 48 hours; - mold in the bathroom, and hair on the floor; - a persistent puddle at the bottom of the tub; - Air conditioning is loud and the fan is installed just above the bed is not very nice to receive a - direct and prolonged fresh air on yourself; - lot of dust on the ship and especially in orchids on tables in the lunch room, not very nice to have this under the eyes during meals; - for the dining room: long line despite reservations; - worn carpets throughout the ship and especially on stairs (I could also talk about color choices, in the chestnuts, which are not very nice); - the cabin door to access the balcony is not practical at all: it is heavy to handle, take up much space on the balcony and does not in the open position and a sliding door (like all other companies) would more convenient and less dangerous; - failed decoration: shades of brown, works of art not very pretty, with the showcases antiques are ... amazing, no surprises and no innovation; the carpet is really not very thick, indicating relative to other companies; - general maintenance of the boat is not enough: many traces of rust, lots of places worthy of repainting, on the upper deck where there are puddles when it rains even slightly, that is dangerous because the risk of slipping, just as, at deck level swimming pool, the top (wood) of the railing was being repaired and replaced on a single string; - I also find that the ceilings are very low, there is even a risk of head banging on the ceiling when you're on sports machines in the gym, I added that the stairs are very steep; - Overall, an experience that is not successful with the various teams met I found not cordial (no "hello"), not conscious of passenger comfort (hard to get a coffee or a glass of water at the buffet) including at the guests service, I would say that this company is rather pretentious and the relationship with the team is altered; - a tiny television in the cabin; - announcements that are being heard loud even in the cabins: therefore difficult to sleep and the announcement for the security personnel scattered through the speakers that are at the head of the bed early in the morning; - the sofa in the cabin was smashed, blows on the furniture; - doors to access the outside are not motorized, which is very dangerous and makes them difficult to handle especially for younger passengers and older (because of the wind); - regular maintenance work noisy, making rest difficult, especially during the days at sea There are of course good things about this boat: the food is OK, the shows are correct with a troupe of good singers and good dancers and a nice pleasant cruise director, the boat shop is correct, although as elsewhere, difficult have a simple "hello", half moon cay is truly an amazing place (but the schedule of the shops were different from those shown and the bar is disrupted) ; pleasant stops in the Caribbean (Grand Turk, for example). I do not recommend this boat (to be discussed with other passengers, including regulars at holland america, those who enjoy it have no experience with other companies that have made significant progress in recent years). It might be interesting to sail a small boat for service quality and usability, but this promise was not kept. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
A Wonderful Cruise This was our first "real" cruise (we took a cheapo three-night cruise out of Los Angeles 15 years ago, but it wasn't anything to compare from). We are in our late 50's and normally do more ... Read More
A Wonderful Cruise This was our first "real" cruise (we took a cheapo three-night cruise out of Los Angeles 15 years ago, but it wasn't anything to compare from). We are in our late 50's and normally do more adventurous self-guided travel. This time we were more in the mood for a trip where everything is planned and done for you, and this cruise did that. Airline -- We booked online through Holland America. This was the only area where we felt truly let down. Apparently we had been booked onto an oversold flight. I had a hint that something was amiss because upon booking, we were given our seat assignment for the return flight, but not the going flight. I wrongly wrote this off as an airline protocol and never questioned it. When we got to the airport we were told we did not have seats. Several other passengers -- also bound for the Eurodam -- were in a similar situation. After some pressuring with the gate staff, the airline came through, sort of: my spouse was assigned one of the crew chairs, while the flight attendants sat on boxes in the galley! Lesson learned -- if you don't get your seat assignment promptly after booking, raise a fuss. Given how far in advance we had booked there was no excuse for putting us in this situation. Cabin -- we booked a Veranda cabin on the 5th deck, but were upgraded to an identical one on the 8th deck. In hindsight, while the 5th floor cabin would have been just fine, I would have spent the extra money to assure the higher deck. I can't imagine taking this cruise in an inside stateroom, as the verandah was our most enjoyed feature. The cabin itself was spotless, and everything worked. The bed was roomy and very comfortable. Absolutely no problems here. Ship condition -- The ship was immaculate throughout. We had not heard about the vibration problems before the trip, but it was evident and did affect our enjoyment. We never felt queasy....just constantly shaken which cost us a lot of sleep and left us feeling jangled. I would have to try other ships to really compare, but this attribute alone would tempt me to pick another ship next time. Service -- Our cabin attendant was a delight. We looked forwards to his nightly turn-down service, which included an animal sculpture made from folded towels. One night he gave us a demonstration and said they are trained to make 47 different animals. Service in the MDR and on deck was consistently good. Food -- We aren't epicures, but it sure was good from our experience! The main dining room fare was wonderful. Portion sizes were modest so we didn't blow our diet, and there was always room for the wonderful desserts. We tried the Tamarind Restaurant one night -- even better! We also dined in the Pinnacle Restaurant and it was the best of all -- a truly memorable meal. Wines were a bit pricey but we discovered that if you only drink half the bottle at one meal, they will store it for you for the next night. We aren't big drinkers, so this let us stretch the investment. In the MDR the open seating worked well. We found that provided we were willing to share a table we could walk in when we arrived -- never a lineup. Tables for two were in demand so may require a wait or even a return visit later in the evening. We ordered room service for breakfast every morning (you fill out a card and hang on your door before retiring) and it arrived hot and right on time. One night I forgot to hang the order on the door. The next morning, when I realized my mistake, I called room service, and they cheerfully took the order, which was delivered in far less time than I expected. We seldom ate in the Lido restaurant because it was very crowded, but when we did the fare was quite good. Mostly we ate there when we just wanted a salad -- one learning for us was how cruise meals do offer just too much of a good thing. There is no shame in passing up the full meal now and then! Activities -- we were on the cruise to get away and relax, so spent more time in a deck chair than anywhere else. I did take the "Behind the Scenes" tour of the ship -- which cost $150 per person - wonderful. We were shown the things that one doesn't think about - the tailor shop, the ship's laundry -- more piles of things to launder than I ever imagined - and the kitchens. Not to mention the engine room, control room, and bridge. With a mid-tour stop for bubbly and a post-cruise drink in the Crowsnest lounge thrown in. Internet ($50 for 100 minutes) was a bit balky - spent a lot of the paid time waiting and had trouble sending outgoing mail. Shore stops -- The beach stop at Grand Turk was marvelous -- a beautiful beach with ample room to spread out, fish swimming all around us. At San Juan, the sights and shops around Old Town are a bit spread out. Walking may be involved unless you book a tour. We are able walkers and got around just fine on foot -- safe and easy to navigate, but there is only so much to see so we were back on ship in time for dinner. The in-port guide that the ship gave out really didn't give much guidance, so book a tour or do your research in advance. At St Thomas, the Eurodam docked at Crown Bay, a satellite dock a couple of miles west of downtown. We knew this from our pre-cruise research, but a few were surprised as Holland America doesn't really disclose this. No harm done since there is good cheap "taxi" service to downtown -- these are more like open-air busses that come along frequently, stop anywhere, and only cost a few dollars. They are totally trustworthy and quite fun. In our case we walked downtown -- a fun excursion, and felt quite safe. Half Moon Cay was another wonderful beach experience. Unlike Grand Turk, shade was at a bit of a premium and the eating and drinking facilities got a bit crowded at lunchtime., but unlike Grand Turk lunch was provided by the ship staff and you could charge all your shopping and drinks to your ship tab. In summary -- definitely got our money's worth. Our main wants ie a good stateroom, good meals/service, beach time and some new sights to were well met. The ship vibration was the biggest concern, and the airline experience was, well, air travel at its usual. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Eurodam 2/4/12 I would like to share my review of the Holland America "Eurodam" First I would like to say, this was one of if not the best cruise I have ever been on. I will not go in to many specifics or review ... Read More
Eurodam 2/4/12 I would like to share my review of the Holland America "Eurodam" First I would like to say, this was one of if not the best cruise I have ever been on. I will not go in to many specifics or review any of the ports, but rather an overview on this cruise. We were in a Deluxe Veranda Suite 7132, (aft facing corner suite). Boarding was fast and easy with no complaints. The overall condition of the ship was immaculate at all times. The staff was always courteous and willing to help with whatever your needs. The food was fantastic. From the Lido dining room to the buffet line at lunch, there was always a great selection for your meals no matter where you ate on the ship. The entertainment was better then what you would expect from a cruise ship. A string quartet plays from 6pm to 11pm ,and a jazz group plays longer into the night. The casino is a little small but never to crowded to find a table or slot machine. Our room steward was always around and willing to help (I don't think the man ever slept). My wife tried the Acupuncture and is now hooked. Other ladies in our group had fantastic experiences in the spa as well. The ship simply put is very beautiful. Everywhere you look, you see reminders of the nautical heritage of Holland America. You will not see the bright fluorescent colors of other cruise lines, rather you find wood tones brass and subtle reminders that you are on a ship, not a Las Vegas Casino. The ship is laid out extremely well with public room that are quite spacious. Your fellow traveler is an older crowd. I was told the average age of the passenger was 58, I think it was more like 65. There were a few younger people on board, but you will not find the spring break type groups. The port selection is average. Grand Turks and Half Moon Cay were fantastic beach days, with pure white sand and plenty of refreshment to keep you hydrated. Puerto Rico was great for strolling down the old town streets and visiting the forts, and St. Thomas was great for shopping. We purchase the optional baggage handling package. They take you bags from your room on the last night and you don't see them until you pick them up from the airport turn style in your home airport. It does seem that Holland America has thought of everything. With all that said (and this is not a complaint) the cost of beverages on the ship have gone up substantially. I think the cruise lines are going the way of the airlines. The fair for your cruise is being kept low while the on board service are where they are making their money. If you would like a relaxing vacation with very few negative aspects I highly recommend Holland America and one of their Dam ships. If you have any specific question about this ship, I would be glad to answer them for you. M. T. Schmidt Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
* First time on Holland America. * Will probably cruise with them again. * The medium sized ship was not crowded. Passenger to staff ratio was very good. * Food was very good to outstanding: Very good in main ... Read More
* First time on Holland America. * Will probably cruise with them again. * The medium sized ship was not crowded. Passenger to staff ratio was very good. * Food was very good to outstanding: Very good in main dinning/buffet...Excellent in Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill. Wine selections were a bit pricey (purchased wine almost every night) but provided high quality and value. * Nice upgrade on accommodations after booking though Costco. * Staff service was excellent...they're very proud of their craft. * The classical music and solo guitar entertainment were fantastic...made for a very classy/sophisticated experience. * The Mainstage shows were very good along with the professional magician who was very entertaining and really engaged the audience. I would recommend music selections be updated a bit with classy Motown selections (Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, etc.) and include more improvisations when using the onstage band. This is obviously not possible with performances that use as soundtrack. *Ports of call were OK. Docking at Crown Bay in Virgin Islands was a bit of a hassle to get to the main part of town. We opted instead to ferry to Water Island and spend a day on Honeymoon beach. *Overall, we felt like we got an excellent value for our cruise dollars; meals, service, accommodations and all. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We were extremely happy with our first experience on HAL. As a 42 and 46 year gay couple we weren't sure of what to expect. The staff was nothing but friendly, gracious and kind. We are now sold on Holland America! Embarkation: ... Read More
We were extremely happy with our first experience on HAL. As a 42 and 46 year gay couple we weren't sure of what to expect. The staff was nothing but friendly, gracious and kind. We are now sold on Holland America! Embarkation: This was such a great start to the cruise. We arrived at the terminal at 11:00 and were on board in 15 minutes. Very smooth and easy with no issues. Since we were booked in a suite we were able to board right away. Our accommodations: we booked the Deluxe Veranda Suite SC 4181 cabin and loved every aspect of it. The closet space is more than enough in fact you would be hard pressed to fill it all up on a voyage of 30 days let alone 7 days. It's the first cruise we took when we had empty drawers space! The deep wrap around balcony more than compensated for the long walks to the other areas of the ship. In fact we enjoyed any extra calorie burning we could get so the long walks weren't an issue at all. Upon disembarking we were able to see some of the SA suites on the Rotterdam deck and other than the mid-ship location and proximity to the Neptune lounge really did not feel that much bigger than our SC room. The bathroom was spacious and well lit, the dressing area was adequate and great for additional storage. Placing the bathroom behind the dressing area was smart as it allows one guest to get ready while the other sleeps in and keeps light and noise out of the bedroom area. The room was clean and the only design complaints were 1) The location of the plasma TV which blocked the window view, if it was wall mounted it would open up the space. This would open up views to the deck and let more light into the suite. 2) The drapery was too long and pooled on the floor so it looked a bit cheap and unkempt. 3) Pop in some windows on the side of the room with the bed to capture views and light. 4) Plug outlets should be spaced apart so multiple iPhones, Kindles and iPads could charge. Or add more outlets throughout the room. That is it for the constructive feedback and I think they are minor but just some odd design options. Service: Made & Made our stewards were absolutely fantastic, in fact they never stopped smiling and in one case when we forgot to turn in shirts to be pressed for formal night in time they and our Neptune concierge located the shirts in laundry and had them to us in a matter of 20 minutes. That was a wow factor for us. These guys were amazing in their ability to help out. Our Neptune concierges Roxy and Bien were also great in securing last minute reservations and making recommendations for other options on the ship to eat and do. The most amazing thing was accidentally dropped my iPod Nano somewhere on the ship. I called Bien at Neptune and he said that if it was found it would be returned to the lost and found. Sure enough someone in laundry located the item as I accidentally tossed it in with the towels collected at the Grand Turk dock. From the time that I lost the iPod to the time that it was returned was under 2 hours. Again this was a wow. Our retreat cabana attendants NJ and Dexter were also amazing as they kept the drinks flowing throughout the day and remembered my partner's birthday and decorated the cabana with balloons on that day. Great service and wonderful attitudes overall. We never encountered any staff member in the public areas who did not smile and say hello. Neptune Lounge: was a nice touch but not a must stop on our daily activity. I liked the morning coffee and the wealth of knowledge the concierge's provided but beyond that an OK space to hang out. I would prefer if this was on the exterior with either deck space or windows. I get that this is not a revenue generating room so taking window/verandah cabins for this would be counter intuitive but it would be nice. Perhaps on a longer cruise I would use it more. Pinnacle Breakfast: our favorite way to start the day. After seeing the chaos on the lido deck each morning with the jockeying for tables and the lines for food we found Benjamin and Lusi hear to be amazing as they remembered our names each day and our coffee and juice preferences when we sat down. This restaurant also understands how to make proper portions as a two egg omelet is more than adequate to start the day. Main Dining Room: we ate here only once as we either had dinner or breakfast at the Pinnacle or Tamarind . Our dining experience was fine. The service was good and the food was good. We weren't disappointed but we weren't wowed by the experience either. I do like the buzz in the MDR when filled with passengers. I will post some dining room menus later this week as they were featuring a number of well known chefs such as Charlie Trotter. Pinnacle Dinners and Le Cirque: we had four dinners here and were impressed by the experience. There were a few issues of pacing the meal and in the delivery of coffee with dessert. The service started with a trio of butters and a trio of Hawaiian Sea Salts to taste followed by an amuse bouche from the chef. During these meals we provided our own wine that we purchased in Fort Lauderdale. Coffee service was elaborate one day with chocolates and then was forgot the next evening. Minor things but ones you notice. The quality and presentation of the food was great. The bone in rib eye was delicious as was the veal chop. My partner's black cod dinner at Le Cirque featured a few bones in his fish which was a minor turnoff. We loved that Benjamin could keep our wine and champagne chilled for us before our next dinner. We felt that the regular Pinnacle dinners were far superior than the Le Cirque dinner. Tamarind: A great meal for both lunch and dinner. The service here is great as is the staff who work here do a great job of explaining the dishes and preparation. In fact the wine steward thanked us for ordering her national beer, San Miguel and supporting the Philippine economy. The dim sum was well prepared and presented, this is the only room where we felt any vibration on the ship and it was minor. The pompano served at dinner was out of this world as it was steamed and cooked in rice paper. Lido: If you like buffet food it looked good. However, we only ate there the day of embarkation for lunch and it was good for a buffet. Canaletto: the service is good and the food is just OK. If you don't want a buffet this is a great option, the veal parmigiana was flavorful enough if a tad burned on the bottom. The antipasto was the best part of the meal. One complete turn off is the fact that it is part of the lido dining area so there was a constant presence of foot traffic. If the room was more closed off it would feel like a special occasion. Retreat Cabana: the best money spent. In fact we would be hard pressed to book another cruise on HAL unless the ship offered a retreat cabana. The lido cabanas we felt were crowded, loud, and hot. After a day out or after the scene at either pool this place provides serenity and calmness in a great atmosphere. We booked the whole week and really liked a place where we could read and relax away from kids and any loud activities. Our days were spent lounging around and being spoiled by Dexter and NJ who brought us lunch each day and champagne and strawberries each late afternoon. On my partner's birthday they decorated the cabana for him which was a total surprise. Starting on this cruise the Eurodam will offer an outdoor dinner in the retreat cabana area during the evening in San Juan called Cabana Club. I do have the menu and will post it later this week. The cost was $87 per person and included liquor. We did not attend but heard that the turn out was only 10 or 15 guests this may have been due to the rain in San Juan so the Cabana Club was moved to the following evening. Some other random thoughts: + The Silk Den is by far the best bar on board and the most under used. We met a group there nightly and felt like it was our own private club. +Liquor prices and mini bar prices were less than what we would pay for in Chicago. Great selection of liquors as we say St. Germaine and Pimm's in the bar area. + Casino and Sport's bar are filled with too many smokers or need better ventilation. + Daily delivery of the NYT to our room was a nice touch! + Catamaran to St. John was a great activity. The crew was engaging and the snorkeling was perfect as we encountered 3 6ft nurse sharks. + If you can't be outside for a sail away definitely hang out in the Explorations cafe. We were surprised that outside of the Lido Pool and Lido Dining Area the rest of the ship was not crowded. In fact many of the outdoor spaces were empty. + We wish the Suite Party and the Captain and Hotel Manager drinks party was announced at the beginning of the cruise so we could change our dinner reservations in enough time. + Lack of announcements is great! + Spa area is great. I had the bamboo massage which was fantastic and variation of deep tissue. I am surprised that if you had a treatment that you could not use the thermal pool area before or after. I am accustomed to access to the full spa on shore when using a service. Overall, I think HAL and Eurodam are a fantastic option. The ports are not the most exciting but that allowed us to not feel guilty about coming back early and enjoying the ship, the retreat and the wonderful service provided by the staff. We will definitely be back but until Retreats are rolled out to other ships we will look to the Eurodam or Nieuw Amsterdam for our next cruise Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We cruised on the NorDam two years ago. This is the only thing we have as a comparison. The EuroDam looked like a new ship to us. It is very clean and totally maintained. Yes the vibration is real. We could even feel it in dinning ... Read More
We cruised on the NorDam two years ago. This is the only thing we have as a comparison. The EuroDam looked like a new ship to us. It is very clean and totally maintained. Yes the vibration is real. We could even feel it in dinning room while in port. Would this keep us from enjoying the Euro dam again? No. But it is really to bad that such a perfect ship should have this problem. I understand that a library now supports many kinds of media - But the Euro dam has included to many things into this space. It is really not a place to relax with a book or kindle. It is open to the Crows Nest bar. When the bar is closed the space is used for dance lessons and other noisy activities. When the bar is open there is often live music. The space is like a hallway to get to the bar. lots of loud traffic. It is very nice to have a coffee bar nearby but the coffee bar is right in the library. This is the only coffee bar aboard ship so it attracts many more people. If one would choose to read in this busy place there are very few comfortable chairs. I ended up reading in some of the bars that were much quieter than the library. The staff were all amazing. They are proud of their ship and of Holland America Line. Our two cabin stewards served 34 cabins. WOW. They worked long hours but always greeted us with a smile and called us by name. The service was very good. Both the cabin stewards and the food service staff had less time to visit than we experienced on the NorDam two years ago. If you choose to tip a little extra to the person who delivers your room service breakfast - have the money ready because they are in and out in a flash. We used Dollar coins for extra tipping. This always brought a great smile of appreciation that was always worth more than a dollar. The Silk Den bar is a little hard to find but well worth a visit. This is a great place to visit with new friends. The bartenders are masters. This is an unhurried place to try something new or to watch the sunset. The best view on board. We loved the beaches at Turks and Caicos and Half Moon Kay. Both are very convenient. Our 90 year old parents were able to do the beach. Our only complaint would be the food at half Moon. The Eurodam is almost perfect. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We are a couple in our fifties. This was our eighth cruise. We have cruised with NCL and Princess. We chose HAL because of the itinerary and the port. We had a non-stop flight into Ft. Lauderdale. We flew in two days early to visit our ... Read More
We are a couple in our fifties. This was our eighth cruise. We have cruised with NCL and Princess. We chose HAL because of the itinerary and the port. We had a non-stop flight into Ft. Lauderdale. We flew in two days early to visit our friends son who lives in Naples. Embarkation: We were at the terminal by 12:30 and in our stateroom before 1:00. The embarkation process was fast and very efficient. Stateroom: We have always booked inside rooms. We were not disappointed with the Eurodam. The room had lots of closet space. More than we are used to. We had a desk and chair, nice size flat screen tv, two outlets (we are used to only having one on other ships)refrigerator and safe. The bathroom had liquid shampoo, conditioner, and soap dispensers in the shower. Hand lotion was also provided. Bathrobes were also provided. We loved our room steward. He was always happy to see us and kept our room so nice the whole week. Ship: Our stateroom was in the front of the ship and it was very easy to get to the Lido and the spa which we used a lot. The ship has fresh flowers every where on the ship. The Lido had beautiful orchids on every table. We did notice the vibrations that everyone talks about on cruise critic but we have noticed the same thing on every cruise we have been on. I loved getting onto the elevator every day to see the new days of the week rug. Nice touch HAL! It is very easy to lose touch of what day it is when you are on vacation. Dining: We ate breakfast in the Lido every morning and they have a good variety to choose from. They had fresh squeezed orange juice and probably six other varieties of juices. We never felt that the Lido was over crowded. The food was all excellent. Ice cream and cookies are always available. They even have cotton candy. We ate at the Grill one day for lunch. We made reservations for the Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind before the cruise. Both were excellent. We also ate at the Italian restaurant. The formal nights are the two days at sea so if you don't want to dress up you must eat at the lido or get room service. Activities: We did not go to the nightly shows. We did go to the screening room to see a couple of movies that have not been out long. The next day they show them on the room tv. We went to the game Deal or No Deal. I went to the gym one day and the rest of the days I walked around the third floor deck. We prepaid for the spa for the week. They credited our account for the difference since it is cheaper to book it once you are on the ship. They only take 40 people. We prebooked to make sure we would be able to get a reservation. Favorite Hangouts: We loved the exploration lounge (crows nest) They had an internet cafe, library in which you could borrow books for the week, lots of board games and puzzles which you could enjoy in the lounge. They also had a coffee shop. They had nice loungers that faced the water and there were some quiet places to read. The other spot we loved was the Silk Den which had nice chairs and loungers to read in. Ports of Call: The two beach ports were wonderful although all the water activities were cancelled on Grand Turk because of high winds. St. Thomas we took a taxi ($11/pp each way) to Sapphire Beach to snorkel. It was a beautiful beach! San Juan we did a kayak excursion. We also snorkeled on Half Moon and went on a jet ski. We really enjoyed the ports of call. This itinerary is a great relaxing vacation. Disembarkation: We chose to do the early walk off (7:15-8) with your luggage. We left at 8. We had no waiting for elevators or lines. It was the smoothest disembarkation we have ever had. We were at the airport by 8:30. The taxi was $10pp. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
This was our 19th cruise. We have been sailing on RCCL and Celebrity ships. We last sailed on HAL in 2006. At that time we walked into a cabin that had previously been occupied by heavy smokers. Despite attempts by our cabin steward, the ... Read More
This was our 19th cruise. We have been sailing on RCCL and Celebrity ships. We last sailed on HAL in 2006. At that time we walked into a cabin that had previously been occupied by heavy smokers. Despite attempts by our cabin steward, the stench was with us the entire trip. Not pleasant. I am happy to report that HAL's new no smoking policy is great. The cabin and genereal areas of the ship were free of smoking residue. Last year we sailed on the Allure of the Seas and I will make same comparisons during this review. EMBARKATION Embarkation was OK. They open the doors to the terminal at 11am, so do not get there any earlier. We unloaded our luggage, parked the car and was at the terminal a little after 11am. The line was out the door which could have been a problem if the weather was bad. Once inside, we picked up our key cards and was given an invitation to a Mariners only luncheon, and directed to a small waiting area to board the ship. This area was SRO and filled up quickly. Once they started to board the ship it went quickly. On board we were directed to the Lido buffet and no one seemed to know about our invitation. Finally, a crew member read the invitation and took us to the main dining room. CABIN We were in cabin 6123 which is across from the AFT elevators. This was a great location and we never heard the elevators. A little vibration at times. The room itself was typical of other cabins we have been in. Not much shelf space in the bathroom but good space in the desk area. Bedding was comfortable and the cabin was clean. There is a huge closet which held all of our clothes with ease. This area has one overhead light which makes it difficult to see items in the closet and the safe. As a suggestion bring a small LED flashlight. There was fresh fruit of your choice daily, and a post card of the ship that is an extra cost item on RCCL and Celebrity ships. The chairs on the veranda were comfortable. The two guys that took care of our cabin, Anom and Ibnu, were probably the best cabin stewards we ever experienced. DINING We had dinner and some lunches in the Manhattan Dining room. The first night was a disaster. Took 2+ houirs to get through dinner, beef came not cooked as requested, and some dishes were sent back. This was the only time we had problems and it got better. We thought the food was great in both variety and quality. Had breakfast in the Lido that was great. Plenty of variety and no problem finding a table. Only problem was that you got omlets at one station and had to go to another station for bacon which means the eggs got cold. We had dinner in Canallettos one night and it was good. The guy that gives out mints when you exit the dining room was missing most nights. This guy is a Holland America symbol and they should get him back. ENTERTAINMENT Shows were typical. Singers trying to exceed the range of their voices and corny choreography. No problem finding seats and you did not have to make a reservation 30 days prior to sailing like on RCCL ships. The Neptunes were a trio that played each night in the Ocean Bar,and they were great. One night a guy by the name of Jeff Burghart was the entertainment. He packed the Showroom and was very funny. PORTS Grand Turk was a zip. Not much there and expensive. San Juan and St.Maarten havn't changed in years. In St. Maarten there are a small group of vendors to the right after you get off the pier that sell T-shirts, etc that are reasonable. Half Moon Cay - Did not get off the ship. SERVICE The crew and staff were tops. HAL takes better care of their past customers than other lines. There was a Welcome Back lunch when we boarded, a Champagne lunch with the Captain during the cruise and a nice gift. I would recommend HAL and the Nieuw Amsterdam to anyone looking for a classic relaxing cruise without the zip-lines and rock climbing walls. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2012
We flew into Lauderdale a day early on January 1, 2012, and stayed at the Roadway on State Road 84, as usual. This year the motel was more hectic and expensive than other years, and the service (free airport and port shuttles) not as ... Read More
We flew into Lauderdale a day early on January 1, 2012, and stayed at the Roadway on State Road 84, as usual. This year the motel was more hectic and expensive than other years, and the service (free airport and port shuttles) not as good. We need to find a better place. Our boarding of the Maasdam on Jan. 2 was delayed until mid-afternoon while they cleaned the ship after an outbreak of norovirus. After this 11-day cruise, we transferred to the Crown Princes for a two week back to back, and I'll make some comparisons. Our HAL stateroom, C325, was a good location, near stairs and atrium, but quiet. It had no minifridge, though we were able to rent one at $2 per day. We were wait listed for early seating and had problems getting seats assigned. This was my 51st cruise (life time total), with over 100 days on HAL ships, but their perks (compared with Princess cruises) are negligible. HAL offers discounts on merchandise and services (jewelry, clothing, spa, cover charges) or extras (lunches and snacks) we do not need. Princess offers preferred boarding and significant free internet time (based on 50 days) not available on HAL. This smaller ship (1200 passengers) was easier to find our way around, and we almost never had to wait in lines (except for boarding), though the older clientele means more walkers, canes, and scooters. This is an observation, not a complaint (I'm getting there myself, age 84). Dining room staff and cabin stewards were excellent. The Maasdam, built in 1993, has had more than average problems with infections, which involve various restrictions and constant cleaning. Understandable and necessary, but annoying. We found the food very good, though we had the usual problem with getting small. They insist on large servings, leading to the waste of food and adding to our waists and the epidemic of obesity. HAL gets a plus for a large, excellent library, with open shelves, a real librarian available most days 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and magazines. The Princess library is small, with shelves often locked, and a crew member there part time. HAL also has a selection of over 1000 DVDs with a player in every room. It publishes a daily NY Times summary, in various languages, of news of the world, and has both CNN and Fox news channels. Princess has no DVD's and a repetitive CNN. The HAL evening entertainment included some of the usual too loud Broadway type of song and dance, but also a variety: a wild odd juggler named Barnaby, a crew show, a non-raunchy family comedian, other odd acts, and the incomparable Adagio string quartet. A bonus on this cruise was the presence of over four hundred musicians and dancers celebrating an annual Jazz at Sea convention. Every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. there was wonderful New Orleans jazz, with some talented dancing. We could hear the "Saints go marching in," and this was a saintly cruise: St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, plus Barbados. We usually find our own activities in the ports. The maps provided by HAL focus on the fancy expensive stores found almost everywhere, the International Diamonds, Emeralds, Tanzanite, and such (employing cheap local labor and exporting profits). These maps are not much help in finding interesting local places. The decor here is OK, but inferior to that of the newer HAL ships. The disembarkation (we travel with carry-on only, and can do an early walk-off) was fast and easy. The next day, Jan. 13, we boarded the Crown Princess for a two-week back to back sailing, described in a separate review. All things considered, I probably prefer HAL, though I rate both lines above most of the others in that price level, and especially appreciate the perks of Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
This was our third cruise with Holland America. I find the service, and accommodations very good. For a vegetarian, eating can be a challenge on Holland America. The menu presents vegetarian options that include chicken, and the chefs ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Holland America. I find the service, and accommodations very good. For a vegetarian, eating can be a challenge on Holland America. The menu presents vegetarian options that include chicken, and the chefs have offered me vegetables in aspic and jello as a dessert. They are unknowledgeable about what constitutes vegetarian and vegan food. My inability to digest most dairy products made matters worse for me. My family, with no dietary restrictions, liked the food a lot. Our adjoining rooms were nice, with comfortable beds and enough closet space for a week of clothes. We spent virtually no time watching the LCD TV with DVD player. Our room was directly under the nightclub, so we heard loud thumping until 2am. They offered to move us (with an upgrade), but we decided to stay put, with earplugs for one of us. We missed our first stop on Grand Cayman because high winds closed the port. Our activity there was snorkeling, so that was not going to happen regardless. Ocho Rios, Jamaica was an easy stop and the river tubing was fun. Our third stop was at Holland America's Half Moon Cay. In the morning, we had some okay snorkeling (we've snorkeled Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Belize, so the rest of the world is at best good to very good). In the afternoon, we planned a bicycle tour of the Cay, but in between, we were told we could eat at a barbecue, which was unfortunately, a logistical disaster. Instead of one ship, there were two at the Cay, and it took an hour to get through the lines to get to the food. Some of use grabbed some cookies for lunch and went biking, but others were too hungry and missed the biking to eat. It was astoundingly badly organized, with salads right next to where burgers were served. They ran our of burgers and all the lines stopped for 15 minutes. Holland America refunded two-thirds of a missed biking trip fee. The biking would have been better if the seats were easily adjusted, or if our guide had a wrench. Fortunately, the Cay is very flat, so our inability to extend our legs was just uncomfortable, not an obstacle. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
The writer being the male side of a retired couple, avid cruisers (more than 3 dozen to date) will, having reviewed the Westerdam at an earlier time, skip the usual ship overview and divide time (more or less) equally between the ship ... Read More
The writer being the male side of a retired couple, avid cruisers (more than 3 dozen to date) will, having reviewed the Westerdam at an earlier time, skip the usual ship overview and divide time (more or less) equally between the ship experience, pros and cons, and the details of the charter itself. Firstly, booking was directly through the charter agency and we were, living in the S.Fl. area, taken to the port by private transportation. BW (for the uninitiated, Beautiful wife) and I also did the Jazz themed charter a prior year and obviously were pleased and impressed sufficiently to return again. The port schedule itself (Nassau, St.Thomas USVI, Gustavia St.Barts, and private island Half Moon Cay) to jazz afficianados (we do not necessarily include ourselves in this demographic) to a true jazz lover could well be almost secondary to the music immersion itself. First impressions, fellow music lovers/cruisers were noticeably friendly much earlier on, bringing to mind the closeness and familiarity usually seen in a longer period of time. Jocularity reigned early on and never ceased, in fact,the event being promoted as "The Greatest Party At Sea". A few quick comments about the Westerdam itself must be in order. Hallway rugs appeared new and were very pleasing to the eye. The ship, not new itself, was in excellent repair and no maintenance problems of even the slightest sort noted. Embarkation was quick, efficient and pleasant; we were on board and in our cabin in 45 minutes from curbside. Our cabin, rated as "Deluxe Verandah" though of average size for its class, had the most well thought out storage space we could remember. Note to CruiseCriticers: Look for well concealed (perhaps too much so) storage in commodious drawers under the couch, easy to miss, as well as the same at bed's end. There is adequate closet room for hanging clothes, and requested added hangers were quickly brought by our steward Ari, who, with assistant Woody, left absolutely nothing in the way of service to be desired, including a fruit basket replenished when appropriate. Ninth deck "Oceanview Cafe", serving of course cafeteria style, is well thought out, though space does not allow the now popular "Kiosk/station" style of food by classification now nearly standard on larger ships. The Indonesian (mostly) crew take excellent care of their clientele, offering to carry trays, and seeing that daily Newspaper digests are available at breakfast. The custom omelet station moves quickly as there are three burners working simultaneously. Food left nothing to be desired and had excellent variety. Vista (Main) Dining Room is well laid out and food of good to very good quality. Service, again, outstanding. Above and beyond? Example: and we regret taking the name of the young lady Maitre d' (Actually, I did, but subsequently failed to be as efficient as she, and somehow misplaced or forgot) as we were traveling with three other couples and having a table only for three total, quickly, efficiently and politely took our names and the next day, we were notified to obtain our new keycards at Customer Service as we had been reassigned to a table with proper seating. Well done. Our waiter Newman was always pleasant and helpful, fulfilling any request. BW and I always make at least some use, time permitting, of the gymnasium, and found it to be well laid out and supplied with sufficient machines and equipment. The presence of a Blood Pressure machine was a pleasant surprise. Added since our last Westerdam experience, on Deck 3, a nice touch, a bar and chocolate treat venue appropriately titled "Chocolate Seduction". Chocolate themed bar drinks, and chocolate treats to either have onsite or to purchase for your cabin. If, considering how tasty they looked, they ever made it back that far! BW had a special chocolate based beverage shown as a "Chocolate Kiss" and pronounced it excellent. Now, to the entertainment. Not, as stated, particularly prone to (or, even familiar with) the "Jazz World" we found as on our prior charter, a large number of well known (well, to others) and prominent musicians who gave it their all and at times, seemingly more. Evening feature shows, in the pleasant and well laid out Theatre, being an example, with the equivalent of two shows each evening, except on certain port days. The specific featured artists doing hour one, and then an entirely different cast in a second hour. Various talent often made an appearance for one or two numbers in the main show, either as a single performer or a small group. Talent also gives performances in the several smaller lounges in the evening, and there are interview type presentations as well scheduled throughout. Different gifts appeared almost nightly during the voyage, including posters with names and photos of the artists, with two autograph signings set up for them or other mementos (CDs etc) to be individually signed. An excellent comedian, Alonzo Bodden, also appeared as both lead entertainer and occasional host. A hospitality desk was set up with generous hours to assist with passenger concerns, questions or future bookings. There is also an excellent dedicated website: www.smoothjazzcruise.com. Our only departure from the ship was Half Moon Cay, the highly rated and rightly so, destination. Excellent BBQ lunch served ashore, proper shopping outlets, and even a small Post Office to send outgoing mail. The island is impeccably maintained and well laid out, with staff who live on the Cay itself and without a doubt take considerable pride in its daily appearance and preservation. I intend to conclude on a very positive note, and one that will forever be with me..an example of both outstanding service and personal pride and integrity on the part of the specific Holland America employee. BW and I had been having breakfast daily in the OceanView cafe but decided on the Vista dining room for our final, before debarkation. Let me set this up: we have found that in all or nearly all instances,there is a very understandable air to this final meal, of politeness and necessary service, but not the sense of "Let me give you outstanding service with my best manner and style" throughout. After all, for staff it is at this point a necessary turnaround and preparing for an entire new group, not a celebratory goodbye with all that entails. Especially so as chances are you are not seated with the service staff you have been with all week. Now: our service with DANANG (upper case accent definitely and on purpose) was not only far, very far, from the usual attitude of having to get through it and over with, but the best and most attentive service I can ever recall at any single meal, anytime, anyplace, any occasion. This veteran waiter (He stated six years on Holland America) could not not have in any way been more polite, caring and helpful, always there instantly on sensing the slightest need or even the hint of need. I took the time at the end of our meal to make sure that he knew this and how grateful and impressed we were. This, Holland America, hope you are listening, is an example of an outstanding employee and a true and even exceptional credit to your line and your brand. VERY well done. Final note, debarkation handled well, smoothly and quickly. Would we do it again? Without question, absolutely. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2012
This is our 13th cruise, but the first for our travelling companions. I don't think we could have asked for a better experience for them on their first outing. The food, service and entertainment was outstanding. Holland America has, ... Read More
This is our 13th cruise, but the first for our travelling companions. I don't think we could have asked for a better experience for them on their first outing. The food, service and entertainment was outstanding. Holland America has, in my opinion, returned to what they do best. Unobtrusive yet unsurpassed service, fine dining with plenty of options, and a Ship as beautifully maintained as any I have been on in the past. Anyone who could complain about 10 glorious days aboard would really have to be difficult to please. While some of the ports were lacking (St. Thomas is great if you like shopping, I guess) others more than made up for it (Dominica - sheer beauty in nature) and Half Moon Cay (what a beach). We both had Outside Obstructed View Cabins, perfect for us as the only time we were in them was when sleeping. DVD Players in every cabin, and free DVD's on loan from a surprisingly extensive library. New to us was the "Happy Hour", rotating nightly through most Bar's (5-6 Crows Nest, 7-8 Ocean Bar, 9-10 Piano Bar etc). Buy one drink, get one for A DOLLAR! KEEP THAT UP, HAL :) We all attended the "Chef's Table" ($79 and worth every penny for wine lovers). 7 Courses and Wine Paring served to a limited group of 20 Guests in the Culinary Arts Center, perpared by the head chef and hosted by the Sommelier. Attended all the cast shows. Cast was amazing, and shows were really well done. All the singers and dancers were very talented. Can't wait for our next cruise on one of those 'Dam ships! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
I have sailed HAL since the 1970's and have about 600 days with them. Although they have changed a bit with the times, they still retain many of the trappings of traditional cruising and especially their long time base of ... Read More
I have sailed HAL since the 1970's and have about 600 days with them. Although they have changed a bit with the times, they still retain many of the trappings of traditional cruising and especially their long time base of "retirees" who comprise the vast majority of their passengers. Some years ago, shortly after their purchase by Carnival, HAL attempted to appeal to families by adding Club HAL facilities to all their ships; however the response just was not there although these facilities and child care options are still available on all their ships except Prinsendam. It seems however that HAL has returned to their "roots" which is upper middle class retirees. I arrived at the pier in Ft Lauderdale about 1030 am, walked thru Check in - all lines seems to have this process down pat, waited in their lounge a bit and by a fluke was the first passenger aboard, after wheelchairs, at 1130. On board rooms are ready on arrival for all and a special luncheon is available in the DR for all "repeaters". If HAL can have rooms ready for occupancy by 1130, and luggage delivered within an hour of "dropoff" Why can't other lines? On RCI rooms not ready until after 1 pm (sometimes 2 pm and later), and luggage frequently takes as much as 8 hours for delivery. Eurodam, one of their two so called "Signature Class" ships - which are really Vista Class ships with 100 extra cabins crammed onto them - is beautiful in HAL's traditional style of nautical antiques, leather, polish, and many comfortable quiet spaces. In recent years however HAL, along with other lines e.g. Celebrity, have crammed extra cabins on almost all their ships. This leads not only to passenger crowding, dining congestion, pool area crowding, but also on their older ships has strained mechanical systems, eg a/c, water etc. On Eurodam (and Niew Amsterdam) they crammed an extra deck onto the ship to accommodate 200 extra pax on a hull designed for 1900, now has to carry 2100. This plus the diversion of deck space, especially around the covered pool area into revenue producing space for shopping and many "cabanas" (rented by the day etc.) materially impacts on space available for regular passengers and detracts from your cruise experience. Food, service, cleanliness, friendliness, alternative restaurants etc. on Eurodam are all superb and in keeping with HAL's reputation of being #1 among the so called "Premium Lines", e.g. Cunard, Celebrity, Princess. A HAL characteristic has always been having a profusion of large, ornate, floral pieces in public area. They are beautiful, found in profusion, and are cared for by two full time florists aboard. Another HAL characteristic - copied by many - is their beautiful Observation Lounge" high above the bridge. On Eurodam this also incorporates their Explorations Cafe, which consists of the Library, Internet Center, and Coffee Shop. HAL has always, and certainly continues to do so on Eurodam - offer many musical groups offering music of all types (including ballroom dancing) in many venues; lovely production shows, a dedicated movie theatre offering "today's" films, etc. My balcony stateroom however was a bit of a disappointment as it was so very like that on other lines e.g. bland decor, gray/black carpeting, small balcony, etc. - just like other lines. On HAL they usually do better and at 200 sq ft. it was the same size as that found elsewhere. Food - I usually eat in the Dining Room for as many meals as possible. On Eurodam tables are, thanks to those 200 extra pax, much closer together - even the Orchestra Balcony as been converted to tables. Food is excellent as is the fine service from their dedicated Indonesian service staff (many from Bali), accompanied by their friendly Filipino bar/wine staff. There are three "extra " restaurants on Eurodam and I ate at two - Tamarind and Pinnacle. Food in both was excellent and service even more superb. We visited St Thomas and Grand Turk - nothing new there as both are "ruined" by too many thousand cruise visitors. Also a day at HAL's private island Half Moon Cay. I have been to all the cruise line "private islands" and this is by far the best for relaxing and enjoyment. As I walked about I was amazed at its order and cleanliness. Of course cleanliness and attention to detail have been HAL's hallmark for many years. And so in summary - a great trip with an excellent, long established (over 135 years) cruise line. My sole problem is with their 'cabin cramming", but I also know that revenue is the bottom line, all lines are doing it, and so I will either adjust or cruise only on super luxury lines, e.g. Regent, Seaborne, Silver Sea which my budget will not allow. Until then I'll rely on HAL for a excellent, solid, cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We had booked this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never done the Eastern Caribbean having done mostly western and Bahamas. While researching this cruise HAL had a sale that allowed the 3rd and 4th passengers to go for free. So we ... Read More
We had booked this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never done the Eastern Caribbean having done mostly western and Bahamas. While researching this cruise HAL had a sale that allowed the 3rd and 4th passengers to go for free. So we took advantage of this and brought my son (25) and his wife with us. We have been on about 16 cruises, spread over CCL, NCL, and RCL but had never cruised HAL before. In a word we are now "spoiled" and will find it hard to go back to the other lines. The level of service, the attention to detail and the other cruisers made this a much more enjoyable trip. Cabin: we had a veranda cabin with 4 adults. Now you would think that would be crowded. But it really was not that bad. I will warn you that the upper bed comes down over the head of the main bed and can be a little close for some. We solved this by not using the upper bed. My son and his wife both slept on the sofa bed. Which is supposed to only be a single, but seemed a little bigger than a single. A side note: we did the unlimited laundry for $49 (great value) and that kept us from having piles of dirty cloths around. Cabana: If you are on a ship that has cabanas (lido/ retreat) and you have not yet reserved one, run to your phone and reserve one. You will not regret it. We had a Lido cabana and could not believe how much we enjoyed it for the price. We never had a problem with having 4 people in a Lido cabana. As a matter of fact, our stewards (who were great) brought us a third chair without being asked. The amount of time that all 4 of us were there was very small, as someone was always coming or going. Sitting in the cabana ordering lunch and enjoying the afternoon treats; well it just makes you feel like a king. They (the cabana stewards) went out of their way to find things they could do for us. I gave them a small tip at the beginning of the cruise and a nice tip at the end, it was well worth it. Vibrations: The vibrations on the ship, I feel are being over reported. I think we have all read so much about it that we are sensitized to it and are looking for it. It really is not a problem. Entertainment: The entertainment is very much a personal preference thing. My wife, who likes those kinds of shows, loved it. I thought that some of the shows were much better than others, so I would not lump them all together as good or bad. I would have liked more variety. The Dream Park show is much better than the show they have on the 2nd night (do not recall the name). I am afraid that many people go to the welcome show and the 2nd night show then give up. The shows later in the week are better by far. Food: Here again it is very subjective. The MDR food was good, but nothing was over the top great. The Tamarind on the other hand was exceptional. After going there on the 3rd night we decided to go back 2 more times. One warning, if you order something on the "Fire" menu and they ask you if you want it extra hot, well they take you seriously and you better have a fire extinguisher handy. The Tai beef salad is not to be missed. Casino: If you are a slots player I have bad news. The slots are tight. My wife plays a lot on every cruise we take and she said that based on her experience they may be the tightest at sea. Just an opinion, hope you have better luck. My son and I both played BJ and had a great time. They have a "normal" (not fun21) $5 table that was fun, however it tends to draw in the people who have no idea how to play. We gave up and moved to the adult ($10) table. The casino also stays open as long as there are people. We never had a problem with them closing early. Ports: Grand Turk and HMC are great beach days. Not a real fan of San Juan or St. Thomas. In San Juan we did the Bacardi rum factory tour on our own. It was ok but not really a factory tour and probable not worth the 4 hours we spent. If I had it to do over I would have spent the time going to the historical forts instead. In St. Thomas we took the skyride up to Paradise point. Very nice to see, but again not worth the time and money. This is one port were I think you need to book an excursion in order to enjoy it. Although the average age may be a little higher on the line (we are 50 and 44) that is not a problem and in fact makes for a better overall experience. If I have to give up drunken 20 somethings roaming the halls in the middle of the night, well that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. My son and daughter-in-law are 20 somethings and they had a great time and cannot wait to back on HAL. Great cruise, loved the ship, didn't love the ports. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
OK. First, let me say that I have only cruised twice before but will cruise many more times in my life. I love sun, sand, the pool, aqua ocean water and having a good meal without worrying about the price and not getting stuck in ... Read More
OK. First, let me say that I have only cruised twice before but will cruise many more times in my life. I love sun, sand, the pool, aqua ocean water and having a good meal without worrying about the price and not getting stuck in traffic. I have done Carnival twice. Loved the Miracle, would not go back on the Valor. In any case, the Eurodam was different. I am 53 years old and felt like there would be a time in my future life when the Eurodam will be right up my alley but not now. There were an awful lot of the "mature" crowd on the ship..Lots of canes, walkers, and overweight people. They usually walked at a snails pace and never considered walking on the left or the right so people could pass. I am a fast walker so that was difficult for me. I met some great people on the ship and I can't say enough about the wait staff. We tried the open seating and liked it a lot. The two of sat a few times with a group but had asked for a 2 seater most of the time and were accomodated. The food was fantastic and much better than I remember the food to be on the Carnival. Entertainment, not much, and ended pretty much at 10:30. Unless you are into cooking and learning about Windows 7, there isn't much more than a couple of trivia and Karoake sessions. That was OK cause I spent alot of time relaxing and playing at the casino. If you get a chance, learn how to play the table game, Let it Ride. They will show you, its easy to learn and not intimidating as blackjack can be. I actually started with 60 and cashed out at 333. I should have started playing it from the get go. We had so much fun playing the "Golden Monkey" slot machine. If you play the max, you can get a shot at the progressive, which I did end up winning on the last night, the middle machine (1,000.00) I played 50 cents 99% of the time on all three and basically the jackpot paid for my gamblings for the week. One thing we discovered half way through the cruise is the Explorations cafe (observation deck)where you can buy a great latte or coffee, the pastries that are there are free. It is a beautiful place and you must visit early on to appreciate the view. I loved, I mean LOVED, Half Moon Cay. It was right off the ship and the most beautiful aqua water. You will not be dissapointed. No shopping there to speak of but that was perfectly fine for me. All in all, it was a great cuise but I probably will not go back on the Holland for about 20 years. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Our cruise started with some confusion upon arriving at Pier 26 in Fort Lauderdale. As soon as we exited our taxi, we were bombarded by folks asking for a tip to take care of our luggage. Once tipped, these folks walked away and we ... Read More
Our cruise started with some confusion upon arriving at Pier 26 in Fort Lauderdale. As soon as we exited our taxi, we were bombarded by folks asking for a tip to take care of our luggage. Once tipped, these folks walked away and we didn't know how to proceed to the terminal. After asking several folks, we entered the terminal and checked in quite easily. We were looking forward to seeing our cabin, as we were upgraded to a SB class. Our first impressions were one of shock and disappointment. Our suite was not clean. The orange chairs were heavily soiled, spotted and dirty. The bed skirt was heavily stained, the bathroom wasn't clean and there was a heavy layer of dust over all the suite. We had to request twice that the room be cleaned properly. Not off to a good start. While preparing for our safety session, I mistakenly pulled a life jacket from our closet (you don't need to bring your life jacket to the safety session). Behind the life jacket were a pair a shorts from a previous guest. This suggested to me that the suite had not been thoroughly inspected and cleaned. Strike 3. On Day 2 we sent some clean clothes out to be pressed only. Two shirts were sent back with water stains (we originally thought they were scorched) and a pair of pants were heavily soiled. Strike 4. The laundry supervisor visited our suite and it was only after were assured him that the items were new and never worn did he agree to take them back and fix the issue. Strike 5. Day 2 was also the first formal night and we were disappointed to not have received our corsage and flowers for the event. Strike 6. Day 3 was my birthday and we had ordered a cake to be sent to our suite to celebrate the event. The cake was ordered by our travel agent. The cake did not arrive. Strike 7. By Day 4, we were extremely disappointed with the service being provided and my wife spoke with the concierge at the Neptune Lounge to make them aware of our displeasure. We received a lot of apologies and were asked what we would like to make things better. I was surprised by this statement as it seemed to me that HAL lost sight of the fact that it is HAL that sets the expectations for the cruise and what we want is to have those expectations met. Of course, by this time we had met many folks on the cruise and were sharing experiences. We weren't the only folks receiving poor service. One couple shared their poor breakfast experience in the Pinnacle Grill, while others thought that the overall service was poor. We frequently found ourselves in the Lido with dirty plates not being cleared. I was surprised to find servers moving empty wine glasses from table to table after guests had sat down and other servers coughing into their hands and then handling bread baskets and dish wear. HAL did send us a free bottle of wine with a note apologizing for the condition of the suite and sent us a free bottle of champagne and a not apologizing for not delivering the birthday cake. It was a nice gesture, but it did not make up for a disappointing first impression or a lost birthday celebration. The ports of call were wonderful. We especially enjoyed Half Moon Cay and swimming in the ocean. We had rented a clam shell for the day and again experienced poor service. We were instructed to go to Hut 1, only to be told to go to Hut 2 further down the beach. (We weren't informed that there was a tram available to take us down the beach). So we set off walking down the beach until we came to Hut 2, only to be told to follow another gentleman who appeared very confused. He took us further down the beach and then back up the beach and told us that he would set the clam shells up behind other clam shells, which meant we would not have any view of the ocean. One guest said she would just request a refund and decided to return to the ship. We stayed and had a great day. The food on board was okay. The Lido was typical cafeteria quality and was definitely of lower quality than what we had previously experienced on the Veendam. We found most of the desserts to be poor. If you love mousse and sponge cake, you will enjoy the dessert offerings. The Dessert Extravagance night was disappointing. Again, mousse and sponge cake. The Chocolate Decadence in the dining room was great, as was the frozen chocolate torte. My wife's creme brulle was frozen in places and the meringue on the baked Alaska wasn't cooked. Many of the food offerings were poor. The crab cakes in the dining room were tiny and you could not taste any crab. We found much of the food to be over salted. We were invited for a tour of the bridge with the Captain. During the tour we found out that the extreme shaking on the ship was being caused by what they think were the rubber gaskets on the engines and they were working on a fix. Depending on where you were, the shaking was quite pronounced. Lamps shaking, lights swaying and there was a spot in the shops on the 3rd floor that was actually uncomfortable to stand. I am confused as to why HAL would ask us to chose a disembarkation time and then just disregard it. We had requested a later disembarkation time as our flight out of Fort Lauderdale was in the afternoon (also booked through HAL). We were surprised when our disembarkation was called an hour and a half earlier than requested, resulting in hours spent sitting in the airport waiting for our flight. Both my wife and I agreed that we enjoyed our ports of call and had a great time. Service on the Eurodam was quite poor and while we haven't given up on HAL, we will never cruise on the Eurodam again and will not recommend the ship to family and friends. Should we chose HAL again, it will be one of its smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We drove into Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted with Holland America's Eurodam right in front of our vehicle once we drove through the security gate. Upon arrival to the ship, the baggage staff quickly comes to assist ... Read More
We drove into Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted with Holland America's Eurodam right in front of our vehicle once we drove through the security gate. Upon arrival to the ship, the baggage staff quickly comes to assist in unloading your bags and then you can easily drive across the street and park in the parking garage which offers easy access to the check-in facility via a covered walk-way, or elevator to ground level. The check-in process has become much easier through the years, and I'm still curious why they make you print out any documents prior to your arrival as they were never asked for, nor needed. No credit verification was necessary and the only document needing to be filled out was the health verification which simply asks if anyone in the traveling party has had any illness in the preceding days. Note, if you answer yes you will be asked to see the ships Doctor to ascertain your health and ability to travel. The check-in process also included a photo which is input into the security system to verify you are who you are when you re-board the ship. Your room key is also given at this time and then you are asked to go into a holding area with a boarding number assigned for an easier entry with less crowd onto the ship. Once we entered the room we noticed it is smaller than similar category rooms on Royal Caribbean and Disney. One of the drawbacks of the room is the minimal drawer space. Make sure you take luggage that "nest" into one another for easy storage as the space is premium. Bedding was comfortable, bathroom and shower area were more than adequate and the tv is a flatscreen that does show Fox News Channel, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, TCM and no broadcast channels such as ABC,NBC or CBS. The balcony and furniture was very nice. The food in the main dining room and Lido area were very good. The best restaurant we experienced during our cruise was Tamarind, the Asian flare restaurant which has a minimal up-charge. I will tell you the best buy on the entire ship was the Lido poolside cabana which is $199.00 per week, and I believe there are only 8-10 of these available. Book these early and you will not be sorry. The furniture in the cabanas include an oval shaped lounge, two chairs and a table. This also features drink and food service from an assigned cabana steward and you can order off of a menu each day for lunch and they also bring fresh fruit platters daily and chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. I DO NOT suggest the cabana on the private island, or the offered butler service at a significant up-charge. The bar is so far from the cabanas you will never get your money worth out of the included beverages. Club HAL was very nice and the small amount of children on this particular cruise enhanced the experience even more. I believe there were 19 kids between 3-7 who utilized this service, so the attention by the staff was excellent. A disappointing part of the cruise is we had to tender in St. Thomas, which we have never had to do previously. In fact, when we booked the cruise it was not shown as a tender port. Our particular tender got stuck outside of the ship for 50 minutes in the middle of a storm and very rough seas because the wind dislodged the ships anchor and the ship therefore could not receive our tender until re-establishing a footing for stability. We were stuck in very high waves which created significant issues for all on board. While this was not necessarily Holland America's fault, how they handled the tendering was certainly their issue which was mismanaged. I would certainly recommend the Eurodam and I believe the Captain, Hotel Manager and Cruise Director were very approachable and truly did want to please their guests. The Cruise Director realized his role, unlike other CD's who are wannabe entertainers, JT Watters was extremely professional and added just the right amount of humor to his dialogue. Of course, the typical communication issues with some staff were experienced, as is the case on most cruises, due to language barrier. Entertainment was simply so, so. The production so seemed very amateurish and offered young entertainers who wanted to please but offered cracking voices and off-step dancing. There was no comedian, juggler, but there was a good magician, James Cielan. Those who have traveled on Zuiderdam, or the Eurodam have certainly experienced Mr. Cielan before as he has been around on those ships a very, very long time. A bit of a change-up would be good here. In the Crow's Nest was a very good guitar player named Jamie who is from Scotland. While his talents were great it was clear he was new and nervous. He was scheduled from 5-9 on most nights and then out of that time, was on break for over an hour. I will never understand that size break for only a four hour set. On one night the Crow's Nest was absolutely packed, so much I couldn't find a place to sit, which is odd for that location. In any event, Jamie took a break without hesitation, or direction that he should stay to entertain the masses. After 9pm there was no entertainment in the Crow's Nest, which was disappointing and is also the best venue for views and comfort on the whole ship. I think whoever is booking entertainment needs to rethink their position in scheduling and personalities who are booked. Departure of the Eurodam was great. You get to choose your own departure time and the management of the time was excellent and I believe this is an area which has been significantly improved by Holland America. We left the ship at 930pm and we were even able to have morning breakfast delivered to the room on the day of departure. It was a relaxing departure, unlike other cruises which are hurrying you off. Enjoy your cruise. I hope this evaluation assists you in your decision process. I'm sure I forgot some things to write about, but I don't think they would be important as we did enjoy our cruise. Read Less
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