Eurodam is HAL’s first ship with a purpose-built Explorations Cafe in the Crow’s Nest. Dan Grausz, senior vice president of fleet operations, commented, "This is a really beautiful area that wasn’t receiving much daytime use before." In the evenings, when the Crow’s Nest offers live music, Explorations is screened off by panels. Along with the extensive library of books and DVDs, it has the usual fabulous coffees and lattes (tell your clients to try the soy latte and the tiny cupcakes, a delicious experiment by the chefs whose background in is Europe, where cupcakes don’t exist).
The shopping area has been expanded by about 1,000 square feet, with elegant wares including Versace jewelry, Omar Torres, etc. Merabella, the upscale jewelry store introduced on the Amsterdam and added to the Westerdam, drew a great deal of interest, and Fine Watches did a brisk business in Fendi, Tissot, Tag Heuer and other designer timepieces.
Those who want to put their cameras or computers to better use will be very pleased with the beautifully designed HAL Digital Workshop powered by Microsoft Windows. Free workshops led by Microsoft techies manage to be accessible even to absolute novices and still deliver an impressive amount of skill in taking pictures, making movies, editing, blogging and creating scrapbooks.
Grausz pointed out that not all the new features were designed for passenger use; in this competitive climate, with more opportunities on land and at sea, HAL is giving considerable attention to the crew area, where they built a crew pub is so attractive that it may appear eventually on the guest side as well.
Guests were enthusiastic about the news that Eurodam is packed with green features, from an environmentally friendly wet cleaning system to replace traditional dry cleaning with its chemicals and solvents to a wastewater treatment system capable of treating both black water and gray water to near drinking water quality. Even the printed materials use soy ink.
Scroll down for more detailed information on the Eurodam
Length: 936 feet
Beam: 105.8 feet
Total cabins: 1,052
Wheelchair accessible cabins: 30
Standard inside cabins: 155 175-200 square feet
Standard outside cabins: 189 185 square feet
Veranda Suites 112 389-1,318 square feet
Deluxe Veranda outside cabins: 586 254 square feet (including balcony)
Holland America Line’s (HAL) new Signature-class Eurodam is definitely an evolution, not a revolution. Last summer, the ship’s inauguration brought company officials back to the line’s birthplace in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where 35,000 agents, past passengers and media sampled HAL’s 80th passenger ship.
The onboard decor is more Northern European than HAL regal, with soft, soothing olives and golds. Woods vary from light colors in the inside staterooms, cherry in the outside ones and rich dark woods in the suites. Artwork onboard shows a strong pull from the Dutch Golden Age, with some nods to other nations, as in the sports bar where the art and furnishings bow to American baseball.
A rendering of the Eurodam
"When you go on board the Eurodam, it’s not overly American or European; it allows flexibility and has a strong appeal across the board. It’s very restrained and has universal appeal," said Rick Meadows, CTC, executive vice president of marketing and sales.
Eurodam is the company’s largest ship to date, but not by much at 86,000 tons. (Vista-class ships are 85,000 tons.) Even with 63 more staterooms than Vista ships, she is still considered a midsized vessel.
"Size is a key issue," president and CEO Stein Kruse stated. "We believe there are some limitations if you want to deliver a premium product. This is absolutely the biggest ship that can go through the Panama Canal. Guests on the Eurodam will never feel crowded or have to deal with long lines."
Centurion agent Tom Baker did express concern about the number of additional passengers; however, he thought the ship was a real improvement in design.
The staterooms generated enthusiasm from most agents — 86 percent are outside; of those, 67 percent have balconies. The Eurodam has also brought some new accommodation styles to HAL, with 56 spa staterooms — 10 of which are on the Observation Deck, and all of which are deluxe veranda rooms, offering floor-to-ceiling picture windows and scalloped terraces.
The spa staterooms have a spa concierge and a direct connection to the spa and are distributed across cabin categories. They have earth-toned decor, special bath appointments and amenities, organic linens, a fitness DVD, yoga mats, pedometers and organic chocolates at turndown.
There are eight different dining venues on the Eurodam to offer HAL’s choice of As You Wish or traditional dining, including three new options: the Pan-Asian Tamarind, the family Italian Canaletto and Slice, a nearly 24-hour pizzeria. All three were well received, but the star was unquestionably Tamarind and its companion, the intimate Silk Den. The cuisine in Tamarind drew raves from the agents and other guests as they devoured chef Rudy Sodamin’s soy-crusted beef tenderloin. The presentation was on par with the food, making the $15 added charge for evening dining a bargain. Dim sum is also offered here at lunchtime without charge.
Canaletto takes over a portion of the Lido at night, turning into a 72-seat family-style Italian restaurant. The no-fee restaurant has an extensive menu but offers only three entrees each evening, with the idea that the changing menu will bring guests back.
There are some new elements in public spaces, as well. Twenty-two private cabanas — tented, airy private areas — are placed on the Observation Deck in a section called The Retreat and also by the midship pool on the Lido. They can be rented for a day or for the entire cruise, and come with iPods, Evian water, chilled grapes, fruit trays, champagne and chocolate. Several agents, however, thought these cabanas might be problematic in the Caribbean due to the amount of sunning space the tents have eliminated.
Eurodam and her sister ship, due in mid-2010, are likely to be the last new HAL ships for some time.
"With the exchange rates as they are now, it would not be prudent for me as CEO to recommend building more ships," Kruse stated. "I think you will see most of the North American brands slowing down their growth."
The Eurodam is offering seven-day Caribbean cruises Oct. 1-April 18, after which she heads for the Baltic.