CruiseClout score: 20.0
Holland America's ms Eurodam: A blend of old & new with plenty to entice
Continually ranking No. 1 among Holland America Line's ships based on passenger ratings, ms Eurodam offers travelers a stylish, sophisticated blend of the old and the new. With 2,104 passengers aboard, it's the largest ship (alongside its twin sister, Nieuw Amsterdam) in the Holland America fleet, but that still makes it a midsize ship that fits in with the cruise line's penchant for unhurried, uncrowded voyages catering mostly to couples.
The ship's upbeat, professional crew members (one staffer for every 2.26 passengers), the impressive art collection based on the theme “The Dutch Golden Age,” and nightly entertainment, ranging from ballroom dancing to classical ensembles, all offer a reminder of Holland America's storied heritage, which dates back to 1873.
On the technical side, Eurodam features the latest state-of-the-art navigation and safety systems. The ship is powered by six diesel generators and propelled by the latest Azipod propulsion technology.But such nods to tradition are complemented by contemporary flourishes: Eurodam's 11 passenger decks include a new topside Pan-Asian restaurant and lounge surrounded by panoramic views, an Explorer's Lounge bar, a new Italian restaurant next to the Lido, an elegant luxury jewelry boutique, a new atrium bar area, an enhanced and reconfigured show lounge and a new photographic and imaging center. Toss in a lively casino, spa, shops full of bling and T-shirts, and quality entertainment at different venues — from a grand theater to an intimate piano bar — and it adds up to a memorable sailing.
Who will like sailing on Eurodam
The Holland America ships are smaller and more intimate than other cruise lines; mega-ships. The intimate nature makes for a more personal feel and passengers get to know one another more easily. The majority of guests are in the 40 to 70 age range, and families with kids are welcome.
Cruising during school season means you'll see more guests past retirement age. Many are active retirees who work out in the ship’s gym, take shore excursions, and take part in the many activities on board, from trivia games to card games. On our cruise we had a lot of Americans, Australians and Japanese with a few Europeans and Canadians. The language on board is English.
Where Holland America's Eurodam sails
Eurodam sails in the Western Caribbean to Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel, Mexico. In summer, she also sails to Mediterranean ports La Goulette (Tunis and Carthage), Barcelona, Spain; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Santa Margherita Ligure (Portofino) and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy. Cruises to Canada and New England during autumn months includes the ports of Boston, Bar Harbor, Maine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec City and Montreal.
Dining aboard Eurodam
Eurodam has seven restaurants and several cafes. After you try the main restaurants, you'll likely want to explore some of the specialty restaurants for a small additional charge. :
- The main, large dining room, called the Rembrandt, has fixed time seating (at 5:30 and 8 pm) and opening seating. We preferred the latter because my husband and I could come at 7 or 7:30 p.m. and be seated at a table of four or six. (Tables for 10 are difficult for conversation.) Five-course menus include continental cuisine, vegetarian and low-carb options, and an extensive wine list is available. The food is well prepared and the servings are reasonable. Special diets can be accommodated if arrangements are made in advance.
- The Lido is the grand cafeteria. Its many stations include Asian Gourmet, Italian, Pizza, salads and all American/European entrees. There’s also a dessert station with many choices. This is the failsafe dining option, the place where diners go who want to dress super casual or who want to opt out of formal night.
- Explorations Cafe, powered by The New York Times, is a comfortable coffee house environment where you can browse through an extensive library, surf the Internet and check email or simply read the morning paper.
- Two other favorites with many passengers are Slice, a pizza stop, and Dive In, a hamburger, hot dog and fries counter. Both are outside on the Lido deck.
- One section of the Lido is Canaletto, a restaurant that features Italian fare and table service. Food is served family style. The surcharge here is $10 per person. The food is quite good and it’s quiet.
- The Pinnacle Grill is a smaller, fine dining restaurant with exquisitely prepared entrees in an elegant, sophisticated setting. Pinnacle features premium Sterling Silver beef, inspired seafood dishes and many select wines rated "Excellent" by Wine Spectator, as well as distinctive Bvlgari china, Riedel stemware and Frette linens. The service is professional. Reservations are required, and there is a surcharge of $29 per person, not including wine.
- The upscale Asian restaurant on Eurodam, Tamarind, offers a relaxed ambience for breakfast, lunch or dinner and features a variety of fresh, cooked-to-order specialties. The lounge features panoramic views of the ocean and the Lido pool area. For dinner there's a surcharge of $20 per person, but lunch, included in your fare, is a good option. Reservations are required and somewhat difficult to get, so it pays to plan ahead. Next to the Tamarind is the Silk Den, a peaceful bar with a great view from comfortable chairs and excellent service.
In addition, the Culinary Arts Center on Eurodam, presented by Food & Wine Magazine, is a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen offers interactive gourmet cooking lessons taught by master chefs or culinary guests.
Activities & entertainment
Holland America does a wonderful job organizing a variety of activities. I particularly like the food events, the cooking demonstrations with recipes and sometimes food samples; the trivia games, some on general info and others more specific (like travel destinations or an era, say the ‘70s). There are also card games, movies, a digital classroom for computer lessons, a digital photography class, bingo, health seminars walking the promenade deck (three times around is a mile).
Eurodam offers a nice variety of entertainment. We enjoyed the bands on board: One played the blues and jazz, and the other played a fusion of old popular songs. While they performed in two of the lounges, some passengers enjoyed showing off their moves on the dance floor. The Piano Bar was always full of fans enjoying the talent of Greg. Entertainment also included classical violin and piano duets and Dancing with the Stars at Sea, based on the TV series.
- The Show Lounge features talented vocalists, dancers, illusionists, comedians and variety acts. In the big theater, the show changes every night. We had a couple of good comedians, a saxophonist and a soloist. All were of high caliber.
- Greenhouse Spa & Salon features beauty and wellness rituals. Enjoy a facial, hot stone massage, steam in a thermal suite and have your hair and nails done for a special evening.
- Crow's Nest offers sweeping 270 degree views during the day, and a hip, fashionable nightclub each evening.
- Club HAL is a dedicated youth facilities and activities for kids ages 3 to 12; activities are supervised and age appropriate.
- The Loft was designed for teens to have fun, socialize and hang out with people their own age, includes a new video editing facility for teens.
Where I went & what I loved
We chose this 12-night cruise for its itinerary. This was my fifth cruise on Holland America (others to Alaska, St. Lawrence Seaway and the Caribbean). It’s a quality operation. This time we boarded in Barcelona, Spain, and disembarked in Copenhagen on May 8. Our ports included Valencia, Cartagena, Gibraltar, Cadiz (for Seville), Lisbon (Portugal), Vigo (for Santiago de Compostela), Portland, England (for Stonehenge), Cherbourg (for Normandy beaches), Brugge (or Bruges, although we didn’t make it for weather reasons) and Copenhagen.
This busy itinerary involved a lot of shore excursions, which means a lot of planning. The advance info provided by Holland America (online) makes this planning easy. With a little advance research on the cities and city maps, we were able to enjoy most ports without a guided shore excursion. You can wait until you get on board to plan your excursions, but you do run the risk of a trip being full.
I loved seeing the cities in Spain, Portugal and France. The history oozes out of the buildings, cathedrals and small cobblestone streets. The locals were generally friendly. And although there were a lot of cruise passengers in these cities, it didn’t feel overwhelmed.
Our stateroom was on the Veranda deck. It was roomy enough with two twins pushed together to make a king. The crevasse was a bit of a bother. We also had a couch in our room, but its seating cushion was too wide. I think it was a hide-a-bed. But having a private little balcony where we could sit outside was lovely. And the reading lights were very nice. Our bathroom was just fine. Our room stewards were gems, efficient and friendly.
- Wine. If you like wine, you can bring two bottles each on board in your luggage when you first arrive without a problem. Buying wine along the way falls under some restrictions, so it pays to check this out if you are a wine drinker. Wine on board is expensive (house wine by the glass is reasonable). You can, however, buy a bottle in the Rembrandt, drink some at dinner and then have the staff save it for you for the next night (by your room number). This is a great service.
- Cooking class. The cooking demos are free and open, but the chef-directed cooking class is by reservation and there is a fee. You cannot sign up for it in advance, so the thing to do is go straight to the office once you’re on board and check it out. Be sure to ask what they are cooking. This always fills up almost instantly. The same is true for some of the small specialty restaurants, so planning is key.
- Tips. Tips are included in your bill unless you sign a form saying you don’t want to do that. I think it makes tipping easier, and it gives tips to all crew members, including those working in areas like laundry and maintenance.
- Shopping. The shops on Eurodam carry clothes, jewelry and watches. I didn’t do any shopping. I wish they had guidebooks for our destinations. Some Holland America ships do so.
Most of the time you can wear smart casual to dinner in the Rembrandt, Pinnacle, Tamarind and Canaletto. However, on formal nights (there were two on this cruise) you need to dress up unless you stick to the Lido deck. Jackets for the men (tie optional) and nice cocktail type dress for women. Some passengers get really dressed up and go dancing after dinner. On these nights we ate in the Lido's cafeteria. Good food, no fuss.
There are only two things I would mention that could be improved. First, there's no night light in the stateroom’s bathroom. If you bring one, there is a plug, but you'll need a two-prong adaptor. Second, the graphic designer for the publication about shore excursions did a terrible job with the type on some of the headings. It’s light blue and impossible to see. The publication is otherwise helpful, but you still need city maps, often available in the shore terminals, or the destination maps in the Cruiseable app.
Have you been aboard Eurodam? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the best part of your experience? I'd love to hear about it.
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Top highlights on this ship
- The chefs do an excellent job in all seven of the ship’s restaurants.
- The nightly entertainment is good, ranging from comedy to classical music.
- Room service at any time is included in your fare — great for a lazy morning at sea.
- Elevators are fast and efficient, making it easy to move about the ship.
- The library has a good selection and an excellent coffee bar.
- The ship’s destination specialist gives great overviews of each port.
- A state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen lets you explore, experiment and indulge.
- There are a few cool spots to keep the teens entertained.