In September, frequent cruiser Frank Farber of Pembroke Pines, Fla., won an AMA Waterways river cruise from AllThingsCruise.com. It was a random drawing. His winner cruise review was for the Emerald Princess.
Last week, Mr. Farber sailed on HAL’s Eurodam and we invited him to submit his impressions. Here is his report:
By Frank Farber
AllThingsCruise Guest Reporter
Saturday morning and friends are dropping us off at Port Everglades. One of the great things about living in South Florida is easy access to the cruise ports. Also, friends taking you saves $15 a day in parking fees which can be spent on more enjoyable things.
Our first view of the Eurodam at the pier was impressive and checking-in was a breeze. Three years prior I had worked a season for Holland America checking people in at the port and I chatted briefly with former co-workers.
Our room was not ready yet so we went to the Mariner Embarkation Brunch rather than brave the expected lines at the Lido buffet. After an excellent lunch, we set out to explore the ship.
The Eurodam is the first of HAL’s new signature ships — its sister Nieuw Amsterdam has just started sailing — and its largest. It is quite beautiful with darker wood hues and wider walkways. The shopping area on deck 3 center is very brightly lit giving a feel of spaciousness to the usual shops-liquor, watches, souvenirs .
We went to the raffle at the spa hoping to win something, but didn’t. Turnout was immense. The gym area is huge with plenty of new machines to work out on. In fact, there was the smell of newness about it all. We did decide to buy the hydo-therapy package: special pool, hot stone loungers, separate steam and sauna rooms.
Dinner at 8 for us. Fixed sitting. Marcus our waiter was very friendly and helpful. Food was very good .My wife who usually does not like the beef on board had an excellent prime rib and my veal loin was very, very good. No charge for the cappuchinos we had with our desserts.
We then wondered into the bright casino where I watched my wife break even at a slot machine. We retired to our room and even though we had ordered a movie (free) from the ship’s very extensive collection to play on the in room DVD, we were too tired to watch and went to bed.
Our first full day at sea
Sunday — a sea day. Spent time at the hydro pool and relaxed on the stones. Great feeling of privacy as opposed to continuous rock music at the adult pool and children using the spas as kiddie pools in the family main pool.
Lunch at the Lido buffet is very slow moving. There are several different stations: Salads, deli, meats, desserts, international, drinks, etc. It gets very congested as passengers try to look through those already in line to see what is available. Certain foods constantly ran out and I gave up. It seems that HAL is trying to give the buffet line a more formal touch, but I would venture the real reason is to cut down on food wastage. However, a buffet meal should not take longer than a meal in the dining room.
Formal night and my bride was beautiful. After dinner we went to the Captains Welcome Toast and show. There we learned our waiter Marcus was employee of the month, well deserved as far we can see. The opening show was well received. Both cast and audience were enthusiastic and the cast was talented also.
Tuesday we sailed into beautiful San Juan harbor. We debarked and walked past all the tour hawkers until driver Modesto offered 90 minutes plus for $8 per person. We had a good time, avoided the heat, and Modesto was funny and informative.
Wednesday was St. Thomas and we docked at Crown Point, which has loads of iguanas and minor shopping. We had hoped to dock at Havensight. Wi-fi is available at Crown Point — $4 for the day.
Live entertainment was of very high quality
There is a very comfortable movie theater on board which shows recent films four times a day. Library is adequate (honor system prevails for checkout much of the time) and internet is expensive.
Saw another show that night: Joe Mason doing an Eagles concert. I have to say that the entertainment is much better than we are used to on cruises. HAL seems to have downsized its cruise staff — used to be many assistant cruise directors. Jason, the cruise director is everywhere, doing everything. He is personable, funny and good at his job.
Shows continue to be to be of high quality. Mason did a special Elton John concert and the farewell show was also excellent. Food was very good and buffet lines got shorter. Friendliness and service from the staff was the usual high HAL quality.
Our cruise ended and we had a great time. Debarkation was easy and we look forward to cruising again with Holland America.
Posted by Cynthia Boal Janssens