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jtdlmc

First HAL Cruise

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Just booked our first cruise with HAL on Eurodam to what they call Tropical Caribbean (Key West, HMC, Grand Turk, Amber Cove) in February 2021.  Key West and Amber Cove are new to us.  Our cruises are based on itinerary, we have no loyalty to any brand and have cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess.  What will we find different on HAL?  I have read that there is not much entertainment which doesn’t really bother us since we usually have to pry our eyes open in order to stay up past 9 pm lol (and we aren’t old!), but what is there to do on sea days or early evening before or after dinner?  Less than a year out and no roll call yet!😱🤔

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Maybe start the roll call. Normally the short cruises have a roll call that's pretty weak. Enjoy your cruise.

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1 hour ago, jtdlmc said:

Just booked our first cruise with HAL on Eurodam to what they call Tropical Caribbean (Key West, HMC, Grand Turk, Amber Cove) in February 2021.  Key West and Amber Cove are new to us.  Our cruises are based on itinerary, we have no loyalty to any brand and have cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess.  What will we find different on HAL?  I have read that there is not much entertainment which doesn’t really bother us since we usually have to pry our eyes open in order to stay up past 9 pm lol (and we aren’t old!), but what is there to do on sea days or early evening before or after dinner?  Less than a year out and no roll call yet!😱🤔

We did the same itinerary last December on Nieuw Amsterdam (Eurodam's sister)

 

You heard correctly on the entertainment options.  DW and I usually just found a nice spot to enjoy a book for me and suduko for her.  They do have an afternoon trivia if I remember correctly.  Usually before dinner we would walk the promenade or enjoy a cocktail with someone in one of the lounges. 

 

BTW...our next cruise is on Eurodam this coming December

 

 

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I sailed the Eurodam a few years back and loved her.  Not alot of entertainment onboard that's true, but what there is, I did enjoy, like BBKings, we did have a few good shows.  I am like you, ready for bed by 9 pm so HAL works for me..............don't sweat the small stuff, go and have a great time.  Everyone is very friendly onboard the HAL ships, you will enjoy her.  Also, don't miss the Dive In Burgers and fries, my favorite and their pizza is awesome as well............

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1 minute ago, doone said:

I sailed the Eurodam a few years back and loved her.  Not alot of entertainment onboard that's true, but what there is, I did enjoy, like BBKings, we did have a few good shows.  I am like you, ready for bed by 9 pm so HAL works for me..............don't sweat the small stuff, go and have a great time.  Everyone is very friendly onboard the HAL ships, you will enjoy her.  Also, don't miss the Dive In Burgers and fries, my favorite and their pizza is awesome as well............

Oh yes!  100% agree with your comment on the Dive In burgers and fries....  I could really go for one right now 😍

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10 minutes ago, CruisingAndDiving said:

Oh yes!  100% agree with your comment on the Dive In burgers and fries....  I could really go for one right now 😍

Me too and the cheesy fries, oh yummy!!!!

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3 hours ago, CruisingAndDiving said:

Oh yes!  100% agree with your comment on the Dive In burgers and fries....  I could really go for one right now 😍

 

2 hours ago, doone said:

Me too and the cheesy fries, oh yummy!!!!


I have already checked out the menu and am looking forward to it!  

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7 hours ago, jtdlmc said:

Just booked our first cruise with HAL on Eurodam to what they call Tropical Caribbean (Key West, HMC, Grand Turk, Amber Cove) in February 2021.  Key West and Amber Cove are new to us.  Our cruises are based on itinerary, we have no loyalty to any brand and have cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess.  What will we find different on HAL?  I have read that there is not much entertainment which doesn’t really bother us since we usually have to pry our eyes open in order to stay up past 9 pm lol (and we aren’t old!), but what is there to do on sea days or early evening before or after dinner?  Less than a year out and no roll call yet!😱🤔

You will enjoy the Eurodam...she is a beautiful ship!  We have sailed her twice and have 2 more cruises on her this year...Hawaii in March and Alaska in July...can't wait!  Our favorite restaurant is the Tamarind...try it.  There is the Music Walk, and as much in the evening as you would like.  We cruise for the ports, not so much for entertainment..

Have a wonderful cruise and welcome to Holland America...we are 5* Mariners and happy with HAL!

Karen

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Also my first HAL cruise... do they happen to do Karaoke on board anywhere?

 

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We just returned on Sunday from the same itinerary but aboard the Niew Statendam. We are in our 40’s, and we traveled with our elementary school aged children. It was our second HAL Cruise after a 7 year hiatus. Like you, we have also cruise on Princess, Carnival, and Royal among others. 
 

I intend to write a more detailed review, but I wanted to give you a condensed version of our experience. Overall, it was an absolutely fantastic cruise, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Everything on HAL was “just nicer” than the other cruise lines mentioned. Service, attention to detail, decor, cuisine, etc. 
 

Cuisine: We found it to be consistently superior across the board, at the dining room, buffet and specialty restaurants. The highlight for us was dinner at the Pinnacle Grill on the last night of the cruise. My wife and I both ordered the 10oz filet mignon and it was one of the best steaks I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. We also tried chef David Burke’s clothesline bacon and it truly lived up to the hype.

 

Entertainment: Stage entertainment is definitely not one of HAL’s strengths. The World Stage was a fantastic venue, but the shows left a lot to be desired. The only show we truly enjoyed was Humanity, but even that paled in comparison to the elaborate productions on cruise lines like Royal Caribbean. Everything else was mediocre. 


The music walk is truly a music lovers dream, with BB King’s Blues, Rolling Stone Rock Room, Billboard, and Lincoln Center Stage. 
 

Don’t know about the Eurodam, but the Niew Statendam lacked a night club (not that we cared). But that should give you an idea on how early this ships goes to sleep. There are very few if any activities listed on the daily program late at night. 

Stateroom: We had a verandah stateroom, and it was beautifully appointed, although a bit tight for our family of 4. Definitely smaller than what we’ve experienced on other cruise lines, but its layout and niceties definitely made up for it. The shower was generously sized for a standard stateroom, and it had one of the BEST showers I’ve ever experienced on any cruise line. The Elemis soaps and lotions smelled wonderful. 
 

Fellow passengers: HAL is definitely geared towards a senior clientele, but that translates into absolutely pleasant fellow cruisers. Passengers in general tend to be more traveled, well mannered, cognizant of others, and pleasant; qualities which unfortunately seem to be less common these days on several cruise lines. 
 

As mentioned, we traveled with our young children, and I was a bit worried that there wouldn’t be other kids onboard and that they would be bored to death with the more adult experience. We learned that there were only 110 kids aged 3-17 onboard (out of 2,600 passengers), and the small number actually translated into a wonderful experience for our kids. Smaller groups meant that they became fast friends with several kids, and they loved the more personal interaction with club HAL’s personnel, something that is hard to experience on more family friendly cruise line when sometimes the number of kids exceeds a thousand. Most kids we met were traveling with parents and grandparents, and my wife and I commented that, consistently, most were extremely well behaved and mannered. Truly a pleasure to travel with these young cruisers.  
 

As far as the itinerary goes, we’d never visited Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk or Amber Cove, which is why we selected this itinerary. Half Moon Cay was blissful, and it truly lived up to the hype. At Grand Turk we just rented a pool cabana where we hung out while our kids played at the pool. We had a waiter deliver drinks and food to our cabana. Good relaxing day, but nothing that we couldn’t do somewhere else. At Amber Cove we took a quick 2 hour Panoramic Puerto Plata tour which was informative and which gave us a quick glimpse at this city (main town square, the San Felipe Cathedral, the coastline, and the San Felipe fortress, as well as a shopping stop). Not the most picturesque city, but it was still nice to get our for a few hours and explore beyond the welcome center. The short duration of the tour allowed plenty of time afterwards to go back and enjoy the welcome center, but it was a bit too packed for our taste since there was a second ship (Carnival Conquest) in port with us.

 

Overall, it was a fantastic and very relaxing cruise, which is exactly what we needed. It probably would’ve been a snooze fest for people who seek a more energetic experience, or the more elaborate entertainment options that other cruise lines offer, but for us, it was the right fit. We enjoyed the quiet, more sophisticated vibe, and even our kids came home raving about the experience. 
 

Hope you do too! 

 

Edited by Tapi

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I forgot to add a few things concerning what we did during the day.

 

Unlike other cruise lines where I sometimes feel frazzled with too many activities, trying to squeeze in as many of them as I possibly can, on Holland America it was the opposite. We found ourselves with lots of time to relax, which was exactly what we needed. We participated in very few organized activities. 
 

We attended daytime Lincoln Center Stage performances (phenomenal) a few times. We also purchased a week pass for the Greenhouse Spa. At $219 per couple, we found it to be a good bargain. We used the hydro pool, steam rooms and tiled loungers on a daily basis, sometimes more than once. It was blissful to watch the world go by, sometimes so relaxed that we’d fall asleep. 
 

Because we were not trying to squeeze in as many activities as possible, we didn’t feel guilty about relaxing in our stateroom and catching up on movies, something that I would’ve never even considered on other cruise lines. There was a wide selection of free movies on our large wall mounted TV (probably the largest TV I’ve ever had on any cruise line). Allowing myself to relax in our stateroom on Holland America just felt right. 
 

There were a few other activities that caught my attention, but once again, I didn’t feel like I needed to squeeze them all in. Holland America was all about guilt free relaxation. 

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Thanks Tapi!  We also sometimes get frazzled with all there is to do on the ship and actually a more relaxing time sounds wonderful.  I was just reading about the Spa pass earlier today and thought that sounded like something that warrants some consideration.  Were you able to order it beforehand or did you wait until you boarded?  I am looking forward to your review.  

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22 minutes ago, jtdlmc said:

Were you able to order it beforehand or did you wait until you boarded?  

Yes, you can purchase it online, I believe until 3 days before the cruise. It was cheaper to purchase it online than on the ship. We paid $219, and the “walk up” price was $299 per couple. But they were trying to make it sound like it was a great deal. There was a board at the entrance to the spa advertising specials, and it said “Regular price: $569, now only $299!” I knew better, but I wonder how many people believed that they were getting a deep discount. 😂

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29 minutes ago, Tapi said:

Yes, you can purchase it online, I believe until 3 days before the cruise. It was cheaper to purchase it online than on the ship. We paid $219, and the “walk up” price was $299 per couple. But they were trying to make it sound like it was a great deal. There was a board at the entrance to the spa advertising specials, and it said “Regular price: $569, now only $299!” I knew better, but I wonder how many people believed that they were getting a deep discount. 😂

Do you have a link for that spa package? I cannot seem to find it on the web site. We sail in 11 days.

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Many thanks to the OP for prompting such an interesting and thought-provoking discussion, and in particular the input from Tapi. We have just recently come back from a 17-day transit of the Panama Canal aboard the Oosterdam. Our DSIL has expressed a genuine (i.e., more than just polite) interest in cruising but has not yet experienced it. DD & DSIL fit much the same demographic as Tapi, and they have a beautiful, delightful boy who is fast approaching his 8th birthday. Tapi's posts have me thinking that maybe HAL would be a suitable choice for them after all.

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1 hour ago, panoramaofthepast said:

Do you have a link for that spa package? I cannot seem to find it on the web site. We sail in 11 days.

 

Log into your booking and click on:

—>  Cruise Activiites  —>  Spa  —> Relaxation Areas

 

“Spa” will be one of the options which pop up when you click on Cruise Activities.

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On 2/26/2020 at 12:08 PM, jtdlmc said:

 I am looking forward to your review.  

Hi! 

I just posted my review with photos. I hope that it's helpful! Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have!

 

 

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We just completed our first HAL cruise on the Eurodam in November. We have also cruised Celebrity and RCL. We purchased a Signature suite guarantee and were assigned room 5002.  It was at the very front of the ship and both the best and the worse of cabins. It had a great view for traveling through the panama canal, but was a handicapped room which we did not need or want. Also, it had a whistling balcony door and lots of sea motion.

 

  • The staff was mostly amazing. (There is always a couple bad eggs.) We liked the daytime activities offered, i.e. photography classes, cooking shows, and mixology classes.
  • The casino was friendlier than we are used to.
  • In our opinion, the food was not as good as Celebrity, but on par with RCL.
  • The adult beverages were consistently good. The wine selection was poor.
  • We did shore excursions that were offered in conjunction with Food and Wine Magazine, 2 of which were FABULOUS, 2 were mediocre.
  • Pinnacle Grill did not work for us even though we gave them a "Do over" opportunity. Tamarind was better. Canelettos was ok. 
  • I had a massage and that was very nice. Also had a session with the personal trainer, that was the biggest fail of the cruise. I had to abort mission in the middle of the session.

We have another cruise booked on HAL. The product to price point ratio works for us.

 

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