This was my winter break from grey Midwest, and it succeeded on every level as that. Much of it was so nice and pleasant. Everything I did was fun; it was a great vacation. For service and care as a regular old Eurodam passenger, I could not complain.
I didn't like my treatment on Eurodam as an injured passenger: hurt by the actions of a HAL employee in the ship's terminal within 5 minutes of my arrival. Nobody denies this was HAL's doing; an accident, but I was hurt. My ankle was sprained and hugely swollen and bruised. This is the first time I ran into how you are treated if you're hurt. I complained and insisted on some considerations, like gel cold packs and getting a line pass on/off at ports, and getting an xray and medical exam, and was refused ALL of those at first, but got them at last. The Guest Services Director was kind to me, invariably polite, but even he had to be reluctantly pulled in. I actually had to have a member of my care team back home call HAL headquarters and say, "This is NOT acceptable...." before I could get anywhere. You'd think I wanted in-vitro fertilization!
Did you ever read your cruise contract? This is the first time I ever did, and it's one cold document. You don't have any rights! However, on every ship there's a hotline to the line's headquarters with an 800 number and a 24-hour number, and you have the right to call those while onboard and say, "They are not treating me right!" I did that, and got somewhere. People showed up in my cabin being sooooo nice. I think I made it clear that I'd be treated like an injured person who they helped or I'd treat them like Smith vs. Holland America. I can see the headlines now...."76 year old widow, alone at sea, hurt, frightened, denied a gel pack........an xray......a line pass.......a medical exam....." Wonderful publicity. Just what you want to have said about you. Two words they stress at HAL and I guess all cruise ships are "safety and security." Well, just say your safety and security are compromised, and speak up when you're in the right, and you'll be a lot safer and more secure.
By the way, the ship rode rough for a number of days and there were a lot of falls. You have to know how to ride a rocking floor when you cruise. You have to hold on, keep near the walls, get to your feet and steady yourself before that first step. The older crowd on HAL, many of them with canes or mobility issues, had a hard time with this. You have to cling to stair rails and keep yourself steady. It's your resposibility not to fall onboard and it should be your first care.
2 out of 5
Seemed like a bee hive; lots of people complaining about delay; priority passengers didn't find a priority!
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Dining Room was pleasant; food good with a few exceptions; buffet had so much food variety it was exhausting just to look at it all. Best meals in Canaletto, the Italian special restaurant. I also loved (along with most guests) the Dive In Burgers and the New York Pizza. BTW, the drink package made things a lot easier, but I'd advise everyone to see if it's discounted hugely as the cruise gets nearer. Some of our group got it way down from the regular $535 for 11 days.
5 out of 5
3 out of 5
I truly felt the little clubs/bars did the best job: BB King, the Piano Guys in Billboard Bar, the Lincoln Center quintets. I felt sorry for the 6 dancers trying to fill a stage and do a good performance to canned music. The impersonator was very funny; laughed so hard. Didn't always go to the show; felt it was a little lame in the mainstage, but then I feel that way on all ships.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Oh, the stewards for my room were just wonderful. I so miss my beautiful, clean, smoothed, immaculate cabin. Some cruisers said they never saw their stewards! How could this happen? We introduced ourselves; I asked them to call me by my first name; I told them exactly what makes me happy: a lot of ice and a lot of towels and my room done by noon. After a few days, I tipped them both for their service and then again at the end, I tipped them $40 each. That's something like 157,000 Indonesian riaphs (?), so we were mutually happy. The waiters were good; one small complain about the wine steward not getting wine to us as we started dinner entrees, but that produced the Cellarmaster and it was taken care of!
5 out of 5
very good maintenance but unfortunately, a germ started going around despite all the ship's best efforts. It's just impossible to constantly clean all surfaces for 3000 people! They have hand sanitizer just everywhere; they tried to make everyone aware of cleanliness needs, but I noticed all those hands stroking along all those handrails and thought, "Use a tissue or pull your sleeve down as you move along the handrails...."and from now on, I'm doing that." The respiratory things weren't serious, but they made for misery just the same.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
It's my fault that I picked deck 5, which I have a sentimental attacchment to. But unfortunately it edges the top of the lifeboats/tenders. When I sat on my balcony, that's what I saw looking downward next to me. Big orange lifeboats are hung above deck 3, take up views on deck 4, and on deck 5, you look down on them. Next trip, I'll get 7 or higher. My room was lovely; big bed so comfortable, a little loveseat, a dressing/table desk, plenty of closet space. I enjoyed my balcony one whole day watching the Panama Canal, and for morning coffee. I really liked Dine In service for continental breakfast and coffee in my pj's on the balcony. One morning when I didn't call for it for some reason, the In Room coordinator called and said, "Don't you want anything to eat this morning?"
There's the loveliest, quietest room I only discovered on my last day??? How did I miss it? It's accessed through the casino and the Gallery Bar, but it's not visible. It has board games, nice chairs, table games -- looked like an English club cardroom. Don't miss it. One more bit of advice about Eurodam: stay out of the medical center if you can do it at all. It's rarely open, charges are enormous, most health plans won't cover expenses as it's a Dutch operation, and the wait is long (mostly because they are only open a few hours a day, except in an emergency situation.
Stayed precruise in a lovely resort arranged by my TA at AA cruises. Marriott Harbor Beach, right on the beach, great restaurants, lovely pool area. I'd like to come back for a stay. My transfer was too early and rushed, and I had a long wait checking out. Next time, would arrange my own checkout and transfer. No use getting in a huge bus crowd at 11am when the ship won't sail until evening. The terminal was overloaded with people, and it wasn't necessary. But FTL was nice -- my Uber driver even made a stop for wine for me. The ship sent an Uber transfer from Miami to FTL, and that was really nice of them. We actually got in a traffic jam for 2 hours and the driver filled me all in about the area and tourism and being an Uber driver.
Now this has gone south since my last visit. BBQ lunch was very low quality for choice and taste (I gave most of mine to the chickens that run around). Seemed like miles to walk between things like the beach and the bbq, althouh there was some difficult to climb big truck transports. So much stuff was for fees that I felt like I was simply there to be charged. I heard lots of grumbles about $40 for a shell sun protector when we didn't get there till later morning and had to catch tenders back by 2pm. This was part of the general "get that penny outta them suckas" that I find so repellent in cruise lines today, not just HAL or Eurodam.
my tour was a catamaran sail and it was great! The island people are so nice; I'm an old white-hair, completely the oldest person there, and everyone handed me in and out and brought me things and the port security guard even offered me aride to the ship when he saw me limping. If you can sail around Aruba, do it! It was just magic. The snorkel spot was fine, those who snorkeled said, and we all loved the many tropical songs blowing out from the speakers all day. I just felt this was what I came on this cruise to have: sun, sea, music, drinks. At the Pelican's Nest, the little stop we made, the sweet hostess took my phone and fixed up my wifi just out of her kind heart, no charge. Just lovely people.
I went on the "out in the country" tour, and loved it. I loved Curacao. I'm going back. The flora, the sea cliffs, a really lovely beach area............and my kind bus driver who again saw I was not fully as able as the younger guests gave me his big strong arm all the way up and back from the sea cliff trail, and watched over me like a friend when he could have had that time off to relax and take a break from the bus and tourists. Sweet man...just like all the island people I met. I felt Curacao was very authentic -- not a "Disney World" island, but a real place where people lived and put up the best little house they could, and used cactus for a fence, and showed spirit. I'm not one for diamond shops and "Del Sol" type downtowns. I like the natural parts of my ports.
the city looks sadly deteriorated and there are many persistent peddlars. I found it dirty in the streets. The nice man who guided our tour did his best, and I enjoyed it as a fun, interesting tour.. I got a really lovely inexpensive emerald ring in the back of one of the Poveda shops that were part of our tour, and I enjoyed the folklorico dance troop at the Naval Museum. There's not much to see that is attractive and pleasant in Cartagena, although it has a magnificent history and importance. Several people climbed the fortress but we simply took photos. The weather was pleasant, but if it is hot in January, it must be just hell in May.
had done the full transit before; stayed on board on my balcony for this partial transit out into Gatun Lake. The ship did a good job of having everyone get a chance to learn about the canal before we got there -- presentations, tv films about the canal, good handouts. Many people went on tours, but it was so misty and rainy, they were wet and miserable and it took all day long, not able to join the ship until 8 hours after leaving it. Long day.....
I know about Colon from others' experiences, and the ship offered no tours in it. Frankly, if the Captain took me out in his personal limo for "Colon Highlights" I would not go. Nevertheless, I saw gangs of young people all dressed up to go out, heading out for the discos in the harbor area. I hope they all got back. Seriously, this is the crime capital of the Caribbean. I'm sorry for them, but it's totally a hands off port for any sensible person.
My favorite day of the cruise: aerial tram through the rain forest at Baurillo Castillo reserve. 2 hours on the bus, 2 hours in the reserve, more than 2 hours back to the port. Traffic! Never mind; until I die, I'll remember floating through that incredible rain forest. Saw a sloth and baby, and every plant in the tropical world from above, below, near hand and far. Our guide filled us all in on CR all the way. He was a delight. Did you know the National Georgraphic makes the Costa Rica aerial trams in the rainforest the number two eco travel experience in the world? I've always wanted to do it, and now I have! Those young people who are taking care of that reserve have all my respect.
3 out of 5
for some reason, we were mustered at 8::30, loaded, and sat there on the bus until after 10:30. Everyone was cross, even the bus driver. Just a mess up. What can one say but "travel." I do like the luggage direct service where the ship grabs your airline luggage and takes it away the night before, but oh my gosh, beware! It's 25 dollars, a real bargain, but the gloves come off if you go a third bag: surcharge of $150!!!! I was entitled to the third bag by my status, and the HAL billing office has quickly refunded the 3rd bag charge to my account, but just be careful about it.
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