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Cruise Ship Information

MS Eurodam is a Signature class cruise ship for Holland America Line. Eurodam is the 80th ship to enter Holland America's service and, at 86,700 tons and carrying 2,104 passengers, she is the largest Holland America ship to date, along with her new sister MS Nieuw Eurodam.[4] She also has dynamic positioning abilities using three 1.9 MW bow thrusters and two 17.6 MW aft mounted Azipods. Total electrical power generation is 64 MW by six diesel generators.

Atmosphere on board

Holland America Line may be one of cruising's most venerable lines, but Eurodam, which debuted in July 2008, continues HAL's more recent tradition of offering an onboard ambience that blends elements from past and present. The ship's elegant art collection, its superbly trained crewmembers -- who hail mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia -- and courtly evening entertainment, from a nightly piano-violin ensemble playing classics to cheek-to-cheek dancing, all connect passengers to Holland America's stately heritage.

And yet, additions to Eurodam -- such as Tamarind, Holland America's first Asian restaurant; the Silk Den lounge, designed as a swanky homage to a Hong Kong hipster's club; a rockin' Memphis-and-Motown band in the BB King Blues Club; and Explorations, a gathering place that mixes together a library, coffee bar, Internet cafe, Crow's Nest lounge and card room -- point to a more contemporary vibe.

The progress that Eurodam represents for Holland America is relatively gentle. It's an evolution, rather than a revolution, to be sure. Still, certain changes point more to the line's future than its past. Eurodam is the first built-for-Holland America ship in the fleet to be designed without a tennis court, for instance. That space went a long way to making room for a combination basketball/dodgeball court, Silk Den and the adjacent Tamarind. The new Canaletto, a family-style Italian restaurant, has few of the usual dining formalities. If the private, fee-extra cabana areas around and above the main pool remind me more of a sleek South Beach resort than a cruise ship, well that's progress, right?

I think so. Holland America, long a line catering more to mature travelers than active ones, has been on a journey to broaden its appeal without alienating its more traditional fans. On Eurodam, the mix works.

Family with Kids/Teens

Club HAL is Holland America's fleetwide program for kids, and its facilities and programs are divided into three categories: 3 to 7, 8 to 12 and 13 to 17. All groups are clustered in the same space on Deck 10 and offer age-appropriate settings. (The 3 to 7 room, for instance, really evokes a kindergarten-type playroom, while the Loft, for teens, is all slouchy couches and tables for hanging out.) A for-fee video arcade is also included in the mix.

Other onboard activities are free.

The program is pretty quiet during port days, though activities pick up after dinnertime. After 10 p.m., fees apply for the 3 to 7 and 8 to 12 age groups. For teens, after-dinner games on the schedule include air hockey and dodgeball, though I did see a big pack of kids roaming the halls rather aimlessly.

All in all, the facilities seemed capable of handling the 275 kids (a good chunk of whom were teens) in an efficient manner, though Eurodam doesn't possess some of the state-of-the-art recreational facilities and enrichment programs offered by other big-ship lines.

Past Passenger Programs

On Deck 1, the officers who provide onboard services, the shore excursions department and a future cruises sales agent are located near the rather sterile atrium bar.

The real fun on Eurodam is the cluster of public rooms on Decks 2 and 3. That's where you'll find the fantastic, Food Network-like Culinary Arts Center; a mall-like stretch of shops carrying the usual cruise souvenirs, with an extra-heavy selection of pricey jewelry; the 55-seat cinema; a photo gallery; and an art auction display space. There are also several meeting rooms, as well as a private, group dining room that's adjacent to The Rembrandt.

Tucked away on Deck 11 is the Explorations Cafe, and it's a destination in its own right. This concept, which debuted on the line's Vista-class ships (and has since been expanded to other vessels in the fleet), aims to create a coffee house ambience in space carved out from the Crow's Nest Bar. There, you'll find a coffee bar selling for-fee beverages, card and game tables, a library that's one of the best in cruising and really comfortable reading chairs that face out to the sea.

It's also the locale for the ship's Internet-connected computers. The cost is 75 cents per minute; heavy users can get a discount on packages (ranging from 100 minutes for $55 to 1,000 minutes for $250).

What's also nice about Explorations' location in the Crow's Nest is that the typically evening-only space really jumps all day long, as well.

There are no self-service laundromats onboard.

Fitness And Spa

Eurodam's main pool is among the most beautiful at sea. It's decorated in muted earth tones with captivating brown and cream tiles and brown wickerlike chaises with plush, plum-colored cushions. Instead of the marine sculptures that populate most pool areas on Holland America's ships, this one has a colorful waterfall fountain. Beyond the pool, there's a jumbo whirlpool and a pair of smaller ones.

This ship has two levels of cabanas. On the pool deck itself, curtained cabanas line one windowed wall. Inside each is a chaise-for-two and small table. Extras include handheld fans, bottled water, Evian spritzers and towels and/or wool blankets. The fee -- $30 for port days, $50 at sea -- permits occupancy between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (You rent for the day.) It also includes lunch service from the cabana menu. Choices include various panini sandwiches, burgers and salads. Glasses of Champagne, afternoon tea and chocolate-covered strawberries are offered, and cabana stewards will fetch cocktails, though you'll be charged for them.

While these are primarily aimed at couples looking to carve out a distinctive pool experience, the cabanas are also fantastic for families, offering a private space so kids can play (and nap) while parents enjoy the pool scene. One downside (and the reason why small fans are provided) is that, while the cabanas have full floor-to-roof windows, there's little air circulation.

One deck above is The Retreat, another cabana community, and it's even nicer than the poolside option. There, designers have carved out a deck for cabanas that are open to sea air, and the area also offers a Miami Beach-like outdoor lounge with extra couches, arm chairs and dining tables. Standards (costing $45 on port days, $75 on sea days) feature two chaise lounges and a small table. Corner units ($65 and $115, respectively) are by far the largest, featuring twin chaises and a double lounger along with a larger table and extra chairs. All receive the same services as cabana inhabitants a deck below.

Eurodam's second major pool is located aft. The Sea View is my favorite for a few reasons. There's plenty of deck space with a view of open sea and the wake, and the Cote d'Azur-style cabana hangings give it a festive air. (There are no private units in this pool area.) It's also blissfully peaceful – it's reserved for adults.

Both the Lido Pool and the Sea View are located adjacent to the Lido buffet. The former is home to the Dive In at the Terrace Grill, while the latter features Slice Pizza. Both have bars. It's quite easy to while away a day on the pool deck without having to move too far.

At the very front of the ship, the Greenhouse Spa is a sprawling complex adjacent to the main pool area and offers all the usual services, such as massages, facials and pedicures.

In addition to a near-daily array of changing discounts for combination treatments, the Spa offers discounts of 10 percent from its prices for booking one treatment, 20 percent for booking two, and 30 percent for booking three.

The ship's fitness center features circuit-training machines and free weights. Among the classes offered are yoga, Pilates and indoor cycling, among others. Most require passengers to pay a fee of $12 per class or three classes for $30. Also, a cardio-centric Boot Camp of 45 to 50 minutes is $60 for two sessions.

Recreational facilities beyond full-court basketball and volleyball are limited onboard Eurodam. There's a walking/jogging track on the promenade.

Food & Dining

Eurodam has more dining options than any ship in Holland America's fleet besides its sister Nieuw Eurodam. The seven different and quite distinct dining areas offer a solid blend of casual and formal options.

The Rembrandt Dining Room is the ship's two-deck main restaurant, and it's open daily for breakfast (7:30 to 9) and occasionally for lunch (noon to 1). Both meals are open seating, though you may be asked to dine with other passengers at bigger tables.

At breakfast, there are plenty of choices, from granola, yogurt and fruit to corned beef hash, eggs prepared many ways and pancakes. When lunch is served there, the choice of options is excellent and includes soups, salads, starters, entrees and desserts. (On one day entrees included Reuben sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, and grilled pork chops.) It's a civilized and relaxing alternative to the Lido buffet.

Rembrandt is always open for dinner, and the evening meal is the main event onboard. As part of Holland America's As You Wish flexible dining program, passengers have two options. Set seating, which involves assigned seating and tablemates at either 5:45 or 8:15, operates on the restaurant's upper level. For those who want to dine at different times each day and choose their own tablemates, open seating is available on Rembrandt's lower deck from 5:30 to 9:15. You can make reservations in advance or just show up. I chose the flexible option and never had a problem getting a table -- though my habit of dining at 8 p.m. or later meant the "rush hour" window of 7 to 7:30 was avoided.

The menus are fantastic for dinner. Rudi Sodamin, the cruise line's master chef, has added just enough -- but not too much -- pizzazz to the culinary offerings. Each night, there are four choices of appetizers (always featuring a vegetarian option), as well as soup and salad. Seven entrees include a pasta choice, a big salad, fish, beef, fowl and a fancier dish, such as lamb or lobster. Each section on the menu features an option for vegetarians.

I kept an eye out for Chef Rudi's unusual entrees on each night's menu; particularly memorable was a roast duck with sour cherry chutney and braised lamb shank. And, especially for diners who prefer their dishes plain, an "available daily" menu of Chef Rudi's "suggestions' includes French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled chicken, broiled New York strip, rice, baked potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Rembrandt also boasts a 22-dish, vegetarian/vegan-only menu for lunch and dinner; it consists of appetizers, salads, soups and entrees. Options include dishes such as portobello mushroom and chipotle quesadillas, Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls or spicy lentil and garbanzo salad. The nine entrees include pad Thai noodles and baked cheese polenta. Diners are asked to order from the menu a day in advance of the meal, to be sure the order is ready in time.

The wine list in the Rembrandt is pedestrian but fairly priced.

The Lido Restaurant, Eurodam's top-ship buffet venue, is, like others in Holland America's fleet, just gorgeous. It's arranged in a modified station setup, with different types of dishes (salads, hot entrees, desserts) grouped in specific areas to cut down a cafeteria line scrum.

The Lido opens for continental breakfast at 6 when the ship is in port, 7  when at sea. Then on port days, the full buffet is open from 6:30 to 10 a.m.; at sea the full buffet runs from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Stations include made-to-order omelets, fruits, cereals, European-style meats and cheeses, and American favorites like waffles and pancakes.

At lunch, the Lido Restaurant is open from 11:30 to at least to 2: On some port days, the buffet remains open until 4. Sections offer a series of soups, salads, hot dishes, sandwiches and desserts. The Lido Deli (11:30 to 5) makes deli sandwiches to order.  Dinner in the Lido -- a casual, no-tablecloth, get-it-yourself repast -- is offered from 5:30 to 8:30 and was quite popular on our Europe cruise; night owls can snack there from 11 to midnight.

For casual fare, the ship has the Dive In at the Terrace Grill (open from noon to 7  -- particularly good for lunch if you're returning late from a shore excursion), where you can custom order three kinds of burgers made from meat ground on the ship, Nathan's Famous hot dogs, a veggie or chicken burger and fries. Slice Pizza (open 11:30 a.m. to midnight) is tucked to one side of the Sea View pool's bar. If you like doughy, American pizza, you'll like the pies at Slice.

For us, the standout dining experiences involves the ship's three alternative restaurants. The Pinnacle Grill is a Holland America tradition; once a Northwest-themed restaurant, it now feels more like a continental steakhouse. Hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and advance reservations are highly recommended.

The menu starts off with appetizers like spicy tomato broth, lobster bisque, Dungeness crab cakes and Caesar salad. Entrees include seafood -- lobster tail, black cod, and salmon -- but the real star is the grill, with everything from porterhouse and filet mignon to veal chops and lamb.

You probably won't have room for dessert, but make the effort if you can; the baked Alaska, served with Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, isn't too heavy. The best-known sweet is the Grand Marnier chocolate volcano; it is a super-rich, thick pudding, served warm. The fee for the standard dinner at Pinnacle Grill is $29.

The Pinnacle is usually open for lunch ($10) but is closed the first two days of every voyage when the wait staff switches to the Lido buffet: To avoid possible spreading of norovirus by infected passengers handling the buffet's serving utensils, for the first 48 hours of each cruise, waiters fill the diners' plates.

Also, the Pinnacle offers two specialty dinners, from the restaurants Le Cirque and De Librije, and on these days the restaurant is not open for lunch.

The Le Cirque meal, served on the same orange-colored plates featured in the Manhattan namesake, includes such specialties as a poached lobster salad among the starters, a butternut squash and huckleberry soup, and chateaubriand and seared Alaskan black cod with a red wine sauce among the entrees. The fee for this meal is $49.

De Librije (pronounced luh BRY uh) is a Michelin three-star restaurant in the Netherlands emphasizing regional dishes, especially seafood, with an Asian influence. The menu is more than imaginative.

For instance, the appetizer "oysters on the beach' uses foie gras as the "shells" at the base of the oysters. The chilled, clear tomato gazpacho has been strained through cheese cloth to remove most of the tomato coloring. The "deconstructed apple pie" is not a traditional slice but rather a plate that holds tastes of chopped apple, vanilla gelato and Chantilly-style cream.

Because of the complexity of the dishes, the De Librije dinner is limited to a single seating of up to 100 passengers. The meal alone is $49; a wine-pairing option is another $37.50. This meal is often a three-hour event.

The best Asian-themed eatery among big-ship cruise lines is Tamarind. It's open from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and passengers should definitely make reservations in advance. Its menu focuses on cuisines of Southeast Asia, China and Japan, and there's something there for any possible preference. My favorite soup is Tamarind's "Jewels of the Sea," a lemongrass broth with shrimp wontons; others are scallop consomme and chicken pho with rice noodles. You could have a whole meal just of beautifully presented appetizers; these include satay, shrimp tempura, pot stickers, spring rolls, green papaya salad and ribs.

Tamarind's menu is divided into four styles of entrees. Under "water" is seafood; the hot pot with shrimp, clams, squid and more is delicious, as is the lime-glazed sea bass. In the "wood" category are meats such as beef tenderloin and Cantonese duck. "Fire," as befits the name, specializes in spicy dishes like curry coconut chicken – featuring chunks of chicken, and you can tell the waitress the degree of spiciness you want -- and Szechuan shrimp. And "earth" is dedicated to vegetarian entrees like sesame udon noodles and five-spice seitan and tempeh.

You can also choose from a sushi and sashimi menu in lieu of the starters or as an entree.

Desserts at Tamarind are also quite good; mango cloud, a souffle accented with mango sorbet, is unique. The fee for dining at Tamarind is $10 for dinner; when it is open for lunch, there is no charge.

Across the hall from Tamarind is its sibling bar, the Silk Den. This is an excellent place to find quiet and solitude before the bar opens in the late afternoon. It's comfy to step into one of the booths, put your feet up on the bench-length cushions and read.

Another Holland America alternative dining venue is Canaletto, which is open from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; again, reservations are recommended. This Italian-American-influenced restaurant, tucked away in a corner of Lido, is the most family-friendly of the three, but it still has ambience (cheerful Asian waters who've assumed Italian nicknames for the evening, white linen-covered tables, and a sort of open kitchen aura, as pastas are made out in the Lido). There is a $10 service charge for dining at Canaletto.

The menu offers slightly fewer choices than do the Pinnacle or Tamarind, but servings are large enough that the Canaletto menu suggests ordering two starters, a pasta plate and one entree (here called Large Plates) for each two diners.

Among the eight starters are a duck and chicken liver pate with kumquat marmalade, braised clams with spicy chorizo sausage, and zuppa di pesce, with mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops, cod and veggies in a tomato saffron broth.

The five pasta dishes include shrimp, braised beef short ribs or Italian sausage. There are just four entree choices but they include an imaginative grilled lemon-thyme white sea bass and roasted pork loin saltimbocca.

More exotic and worth the caloric splurge are desserts -- the trio of tiramisu serves up bite-sized samples of espresso, lemon and Amaretto, and the torta al cacao is walnut praline in vanilla bean gelato.

Canaletto's wine list, originally a minor option with offerings from the vineyard also named Canaletto, has grown to 18 Italian selections, half sold by the glass, carafe or bottle, the rest only by the bottle. These wines come from more than 10 vineyards.

Full-service lunching, while seemingly losing favor among today's more contemporary cruise travelers, is alive and well on Eurodam. Beyond the buffet, other Holland America ships traditionally open their main restaurants for lunch every day (and on sea days, perhaps, the Pinnacle Grill). On Eurodam, it's a little different. The three full-service restaurants -- the Rembrandt, Pinnacle Grill (cost $10) and Tamarind -- rotate serving lunch.

In-cabin food service is available 24 hours a day. Holland America does a particularly good job with breakfast options, which include continental and hot dishes. Choices include eggs, cooked meats, fruits, yogurts, cereals and pastries. Beyond breakfast, there are three other options for in-cabin dining. The menu offered from noon to 10 p.m. features heartier fare, offering entrees, in addition to soups, salads and sandwiches. You can also order room service from the Rembrandt main dining room menu during dinner hours. Finally, the 24-hour menu is a bit more limited with a handful of items, such as a salad or two, burgers, club sandwiches, an omelet and a trio of desserts.

Entertainment

Holland America's entertainment and enrichment program is divided into four categories: Explorations for shore-excursion and destination-focused information; Culinary Arts Center with activities that range from cooking demonstrations to food-related trivia; Digital Workshop with subjects that include digital photography and making a vacation video; and Mind, Body, Spirit, focusing on fitness, recreation and brain stimulation games like puzzles and trivia.

These occur mostly during the day -- though, on our port-intensive cruise, some activities were held at night -- and there's rarely a fee charged. Exceptions are crafts workshops, such as scrapbooking, that require materials, and the tasting sessions for vodka and wine, or the cocktail-mixing classes. You can watch the demonstrations for free but it you want to drink, the fees vary from $12.50 to $35, for the upscale wine-tasting.

Eurodam really comes alive at night. Las Vegas-style revues are held at the two-deck-high Mainstage, which underwent a modernization in December 2013 with the addition of $2.5-million worth of LED screens. Used as shifting backdrops for the revues, the results can leave passengers asking, "How did they DO that?"

The Screening Room, the ship's cinema, features recent movies shown up to five times a day (and looped on the in-cabin TVs the following day).

There's also music, which is quite often accompanied by dancing -- whether cheek-to-cheek or more interpretative -- all over the ship. Hot spots include The BB King Blues Club, featuring a rockin' six-piece band with two vocalists belting Memphis and Motown favorites, and just down the Deck 2 corridor, the often-raucous Piano Bar, where passengers sing along with the pianist. The HALcats play in the Ocean Bar, the primary spot for dancing. Explorer's Lounge has the elegant Adagio duo playing classics. Northern Lights, the ship's disco, pumps out contemporary dance music and special theme mixes, such as Motown Mania and Latin Hits. The ship's sports bar offers a multiscreen opportunity to watch whatever match or tournament is on television.

Recently added to HAL's fleet is a competition for passengers fashioned after the hit TV show, Dancing with the Stars. Over the course of a voyage, passengers are invited to learn dance steps such as the tango, swing and waltz; the lessons are taught by the ships' professional dancers. Typically about 50 amateurs will try out; judges reduce the number to six finalists, who then compete with their pro partners as the entertainment the last night onboard. For this finale, the Mainstage theater is typically full.

Eurodam's casino is right in the heart of the nightlife district (a term I use to describe the night-owl spots, such as the disco, sports bar and piano bar). It features a wide variety of slot machines and all major table games.

An interesting offering is the Eurodam Pub Crawl, where the bar staff leads participants on a tour of the ship's lounges. Cost is $20, but that includes four drinks that would cost easily that much otherwise.

Holland America has done an excellent job of sprucing up options for shore excursions in ports of call. These range from standard motorcoach tours to more adventurous, recreationally oriented activities such as cycling or kayaking. The shore excursions desk can also make arrangements for private guides.

Fellow Passengers

Your fellow passengers on Eurodam will vary, depending on the ship's itinerary. On our Baltic cruise, fully half the passengers were Americans, while the bulk of the rest were Australians, Canadians and Western Europeans. On a Caribbean cruise, you'll find even more North Americans.

In most cases, Eurodam cruisers were well-traveled and typically more mature -- in the 50-plus demographic. Families were amply represented, with about 13 percent of passengers on the Baltic cruise younger than 18 years, but this did not overpower the experience. The family contingent is largest during the traditional American school holiday periods.

Tipping


The ms Eurodam is the third ship to bear the name of the Dutch capital in Holland America Line's over 135-year history. Built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, the ms Eurodam blends the very latest in shipbuilding technology with the artistry, personalized touches and superior service that has made Holland America Line one of the highest-rated cruise lines in the world.


Our recommendation

Our crew works very hard to make sure that every aspect of your cruise meets the highest standards. This includes those crew members who serve you directly, such as our dining room wait staff and the stewards who tend to your stateroom each day. There are also many others that tend to your care that you may never meet, such as galley and laundry staff. To ensure that the efforts of all of our crew members are recognized and rewarded, a daily Hotel Service Charge of US$11.50 per passenger for staterooms & US$ 12.00 per person for suite guests is automatically charged to each guest's shipboard account. If our service exceeds or fails to meet your expectations, you are free to adjust this amount at the end of the cruise. The Hotel Service Charge is paid to Holland America Line crew members, and represents an important part of their total compensation package. A 15% service charge is automatically added to bar charges and dining room wine purchases. In terminals, airports, ports of call and on shore excursions, we suggest that you extend gratuities consistent with customary local practices.