Dining aboard the Eurodam

ABOARD THE EURODAM– So close. And yet so far away.

Pinnacle Grill server Cinthiani prepares Caesar salad at our table.

The Eurodam is stopped off Half Moon Cay. Strong winds and rough seas have made it dangerous to dock for a day at  the private island of Holland America Cruise Line.

This was to be our final hurrah before the cruise ends tomorrow in Fort Lauderdale. I was looking forward to seeing the island named in honor of Henry Hudson’s ship – the ship that is depicted on the Holland America logo.

Oh, well, when Mother Nature flexes her muscles there is nothing that can be done. So we will be spending another day at sea, certainly not an unpleasant way to enjoy a day.

Instead of writing about Half Moon Cay and celebrating it’s 15th birthday, I thought I’d share one of the great pleasure onboard the Eurodam – eating.

Yep, my sister Elaine and I have tried about all of it. The Eurodam has an “as-you-wish dining option” that we picked and would definitely recommend. The way it works is that the lower level of the formal Rembrandt dining room has open seating and the upper level is fixed – meaning the traditional system with assigned tables and dining times for the entire cruise.

The Rembrandt Dining Room on the Eurodam lives up to its masterpiece name.

We chose the “as-you-wish” dining concept because having an assigned dining time can sometimes be inconvenient. If we want to spend more time on shore or in the spa or just sitting on our verandah, we don’t want to be rushed to head to the formal dining room at a certain time.

Of course, there was the possibility that we could encounter a bunch of people waiting in line for our as-you-wish option. Or we might not be able to get a table for two as we hoped. But neither one of those things happened.

Elaine and I would show up whenever we wanted to dine – usually around 6 and the dining room greeter always gave us a table for two.

Food on the Eurodam is top notch. Always creatively prepared and presented with lovely little touches. For dinner in the Rembrandt dining room, I always checked the menu for “Master Chef Recommendations.” Can’t go wrong with those.

The menu for the Captain’s Gala Dinner was especially good with duck pate brioche for appetizer, French vegetable pot Petite Marmite (slowly cooked clear beef consommé garnished with diced vegetable and fine herbs), and an entrée of Alaskan King Crab legs. Other tempting entrée choices were maple glazed tuna with apple-potato salad, oven roasted rack of lamb and quail with apricot bread stuffing.

Gourmet vegetarian choices for the Captain’s Gala Dinner included chilled cranberry sup, capellini with arugula and roasted tomato and truffled mushroom risotto with creamy mascarpone cheese. For diners who prefer their dishes less fancy, an “available daily menu” includes French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled salmon, grilled chicken, broiled New York strip, rice, baked potatoes and steamed vegetables.

For the first morning of our cruise, Elaine and I ordered room-service breakfast. The Eurodam offers complimentary 24-hour room service. Since our first day was spent at sea, Elaine and I thought it would be fun to eat breakfast in our nightgowns on our private verandah.

It certainly was. In fact, we enjoyed that leisurely breakfast so much that we had room-service breakfast in our room every day. Might sound tiresome to some but I had bacon, eggs, fruit and juice every day. Elaine tried the omelets and the sausage and said both were good. I don’t eat sausage. Ever.

Seasoned sea salts, flavored butters and delicious lobster bisque add to the dining experience at Pinnacle Grill.

The Lido was our choice for lunch and we found so many options. I liked the sushi and had it almost every day, along with noodles, vegetables, stir-fried beef and much more. The Lido’s salad bar was a meal in itself. Desserts were always good. My favorite – lemon meringue pie.

For snacks, the Terrace Grill offers hamburgers, fries and hot dogs served poolside. Slice Pizza serves thin crust pizza with a bunch of toppings.

Out of all the delicious meals I had on the Eurodam, the only two things I didn’t like were the butternut squash soup (tasted like melted pumpkin pie) and the price for a can of warm Coke (($2.24). Seems like soft drinks could be complimentary on such a fantastic cruise line. Since I don’t like Coke, I settled that problem by buying a couple of big bottles of Pepsi (99 cents) in San Juan and took them aboard the Eurodam which the ship’s security said was fine.

To celebrate our sister trip, Elaine and I also dined at three of the four extra-price dining spots. The only one we didn’t try was Tamarind ($15), which we heard was excellent.

For $10, we headed one night to Canaletto, which offers classic Italian fare featuring seafood, grilled meats and pasta. The white-table clothed Canaletto is located in a closed-off section of the Lido which gives wonderful ocean views along with Italian operas in the background and delicious antipasti served table side.

Glenn Cools, manager of Pinnacle Grill, urges cruisers to make dinner reservations when booking a cruise as some specialty restaurants book up quickly.

For $25, the Pinnacle Grill has exceptional aged sterling silver beef along with premium seafood and other delights. Comfy in a half-circular leather booth with tall backs, Elaine and I ordered Caesar’s salad which our server Cinthiana prepared table side. Cinthiana also cut and removed my lobster tail from its shell..  For dessert, we savored the grill’s baked Alaska, served with Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.

For an extra special event ($39 each), Elaine and I spent “An Evening at Le Cirque.” Served in the Pinnacle Grill for only one evening on the cruise, the dinner presented a wonderful taste of Sirio Maccioni’s celebrated New York restaurant.

To set the atmosphere, historic photos of Le Cirque with the owner and famous guests were hung in the Pinnacle Grill room. Jackie Onassis and Sophia Loren were two I recognized. Elaine and I sat under a big photo of Robert DeNiro. Perfect!

We both chose chateaubriand, very tender and flavorful steak. Dessert was the famed Le Cirque crème brulee. Then after dessert we were served delightful little confections delivered on a silver platter.

But that wasn’t the end.

Back in our stateroom that night, we found a special golden  souvenir box from Le Cirque and a letter thanking us for dining there. Inside the box were two truffles. Those we have saved to enjoy at the airport when we wait for our flight home. So sorry to see the cruise end.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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