This week seemed to go at a very relaxed pace. I think it was the layout of the itinerary; Day 1 at sea, Days 2,3, and 4 in port, Day 5 at sea, Day 6 at the beach at Half Moon Cay, and then home. Truly relaxing and enjoyable.
5 out of 5
Quick and easy. I was very impressed at how quickly we were processed and on board.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Generally speaking, I enjoyed the cuisine, although it somehow didn't quite measure up to recent cruises on a different cruiseline. Something indefinable was missing, and I can't put my finger on it. Perhaps it could be marked up to personal preference, but dishes I had enjoyed multiple times on Princess in November I didn't order a second time, or even finish on HAL (examples: French Onion Soup and Creme Brulee). HOWEVER: HAL offered items I didn't see or somehow missed on Princess' menu, like Steak Tartar. I was very impressed with the burgers on HAL over the mediocre ones on Princess. And though the Lido Market did tend to get bogged down at times due to the non-self-serve nature of the food lines, I found there were plenty of choices to grab and go, or a different line to resort to - usually. My frustration came with the whimsical tendency of the Lido Market manager to change the hours at his/her whim. One morning, with a posted end to the breakfast service of 10:30, we arrived at 10:00 to discover the lines closing before our eyes; we barely managed to grab one plate of anything before the curtains were dropped. The next morning, we scurried up to give ourselves enough time, and were able to linger another hour before they closed the lines. Kudos given where due: the breakfasts were delicious! The various quiches were flavorful and moist, and I ate entirely too much :)
2 out of 5
Honestly, I would prefer to rate the pool 'TERRIBLE' but it seems ungrateful somehow. The Eurodam has the benefit of a closing ceiling over the pool, which would be perfect for inclement weather. Our weather was beautiful, and I would so much have enjoyed a deck chair somewhere near the pool. Unfortunately, there are EXTREMELY limited lounge chairs around the pool, as there are MASSIVE amounts of table seating and comfy conversation seating. Additionally, one entire side of the LIDO deck along the pool is taken up by 'Poolside cabanas', 10 or so of them, for the cruisers who book them for the entirety of the voyage; whether they plan to use them or not is at their discretion, but no-one else can utilize any of the space along that entire side. Those cost somewhere between $200-$250 for the week (7-day cruise). There is another bank of cabanas in the retreat - those are a little away from the pool, a little larger, and a bit costlier. Next time I travel on HAL, I will be be sure to assess if I want any time by the pool, and if I do, I 'm afraid I'll be forced to pay the extra, just to avoid that frustration. We cruise to relax, and wandering the upper desks of the ship vainly looking for a comfortable spot was counter-productive. In the end, we gave up on the Lido and enjoyed the Promenade Deck - lots of water to look at there, even if not much sun :-)
3 out of 5
I don't know how performers are chosen for the various ships - obviously a large stage can support a larger cast when it comes to the ship-specific singers/dancers. But (I know, there's always a 'but') but does the size of the ship also affect the quality of the performers staffed to a it? There were 3 singers and a company of 8 or so dancers. Of the singers, the obvious 'lead' was a female CLEARLY not up to the task of being the headliner. The 2 males were superior by leaps and bounds, one of them FAR FAR so. Find a way to showcase him and you'll have a hit on your hands. The dancers were okay. The sets were imaginative and artistic - HAL did so very much with a small space. The techs did a fantastic job with the sound, the lighting, the sets, etc. But 'mediocre' was my take-away, unfortunately.
The ships' musicians were so very good, and we thoroughly enjoyed the BBC Earth 2 presentation with the orchestra playing the soundtrack. There were other good shows also: magician, comedian, and pianist-comedian, all of whom we enjoyed.
But what we enjoyed the absolute most was the Billboard Onboard, reviewed separately.
5 out of 5
The Billboard Onboard was just so great, so much fun. The pianist/performers Meghan and Michael added tremendously to our enjoyment of this cruise. Meghan and Michael were fun, entertaining, talented, relaxed, including, related well with the crowd, and all this with the challenge of the bells and music and general hubbub of the casino right there in the same space.
Service and Staff
4 out of 5
The staff in general were pleasant and professional, friendly, sometimes to a fault. Especially the staff in the Lido Market were friendly and helpful, until about Day 5. But that may be only the section in which we found ourselves. No complaints worth writing.
4 out of 5
The Eurodam is a mid-size ship -- almost a small-ship experience when compared to the behemoths coming out these days. With only a 2,000 passenger capacity, she rarely felt crowded. I really enjoyed the layout overall, with the 2 exceptions being the already-mentioned crowding on the Lido Deck and the juxtaposing of a musical show by the noisy casino.
That said, this ship was very well-maintained, very clean, fairly easy to navigate. I understand the Eurodam is going into Dry Dock soon, and I wonder what changes will be made at that time.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
The cabin is on the Upper Promenade, supposedly fully-obstructed windows. We'd figured "oh well, at least we'll have some daylight'. So glad we booked this cabin! It had huge windows, and yes, there was indeed a lifeboat right outside, but by no means was the view 'fully obstructed'.
There was a TUB!!! which means that the shower was decent-sized - hooray!
Although HAL website indicates that there are electrical outlets by the bedside, we found this not to be the case. But our steward immediately brought us a (huge orange industrial) extension cord for our use for the duration - a little cumbersome but it met the need so it's all good.....
Unbelievable storage space; had this been a 10-14 day cruise with all the additional clothing we still would have been okay on storage.
Consider booking one of the cabanas on the Lido or in the Retreat.
Be aware that if you opt for Anytime Dining, you can still make a reservation for the Main Dining Room. With only one Dining Room, there is occasionally a small wait, but the Dining Room staff manage things beautifully.
I HATE to put this, because St Maarten so desperately needs the tourists to come back, but they are still rebuilding after the devastating hurricane in 2017, and this isn't yet the 'tropical paradise' I recall from previous trips. Maybe next time I would book an island-visit excursion and not just wander Philipsburg.
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