High quality but higher price
Eurodam Cruise Review to Europe - Western Mediterranean
This cruise was high quality, as you'd expect from a premium class cruise line like Holland America, but the prices were too high and left me feeling I was nickel and dimed by HAL. I felt I could get the same quality for less money from other providers, like Viking and Norwegian.
The best thing HAL had going for it was its superb staff, who were always friendly, helpful, and informed. Even the behind the scenes staff, who I met during a tour of the ship and who were totally anonymous, yet even they went out of their way to smile and say hello. I definitely felt treated like royalty!
The route was also a strong selling point, and did a better job of covering key sights in southern Spain than comparable offerings from other cruise lines--this is the reason I did not go with my first choice, Viking. The onboard activities were cheesy, but comparable to what you'd get on other ships, except for the live music entertainment, which was superb and a high point of the cruise. The main entertainment was in transition and I don't feel I saw what HAL really has to offer, so I will only say that the venue definitely had potential. The shore excursions were a low point, and I would strongly recommend booking excursions with an independent provider. HAL's offerings were weak on content, greatly overpriced ($150/pp for a behind the scenes ship tour that was nice, but not that much nicer than the free tours other ships offer.)
The food was another strong selling point, with a varied and excellent selection in the main dining room, above average offerings in the buffet, and ala carte Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind restaurants that were superb and actually reasonably priced. I would definitely recommend trying them at least once, and if you time your visit for one of their specialty evenings, you will not be disappointed by the Michelin-quality fare!
More on the nickel and dime philosophy I experienced. I didn't choose this cruise to save money, and I expected HAL, like most cruise lines to bank on making money from my drinks, gambling, shopping, etc., but HAL took things to such an extreme that it cheapened the overall experience, taking what could easily have been a five star experience down to three. They charged for transportation from the dock to city centers, for water bottles to take on excursions, for the behind the scenes ship tour, and not only did they charge extra for everything, but they kept doing a hard sell to try to get me to buy stuff, even bottled water at dinner when I said I'd settle for tap water. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I did the cruise and I had a wonderful time, but the great locations and superb staff was done no favors by HAL's excessive marketing.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
If you appreciate high quality food, visit the Pinnacle Grill on one of it's Michelin-quality specialty nights. This was one of the few things aboard that was actually priced below market value, and the quality was absolutely divine!