Review:
Eorodam - Holland
American Baltic Cruise
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By Patricia Blackstock

I'm Patricia Blackstock ftom Myrtle Beach, S.C. My sister-in-law Paula called me last winter to ask if Russia was still on my bucket list. If so, how about a cruise to the Baltic Countries?

Paula had sailed with Holland America in the past, and her recommendation led me to this voyage. She had a travel agent from Holland America, so he became my travel agant too.

My previous cruising history: The Wind Star (Istanbul and the Greek Islands) Viking Cruise (through the wine country of Provence, France) Royal Caribbean, Enchantment of the Seas, Nassau, Bahamas

REVIEW PROS:

Many reviews of the Baltic Cruise (Holland America Eurodam) are readily available online, and most of them are positive. There's a reason for this. The Eurodam is a beautiful ship with a wide variety of things to do. A ship this size needs to be organized in order to handle over 2000 people - and it is. This can't be easy, but the management and staff of the Holland America Eurodam knew how to handle organization lawlessly.

Eating Holland America Eurodam (Food Review): I would rate all the food very good to excellent. Paula and I signed up for the Pinnacle, Le Cirque, and the Sommelier special dinners. They were all excellent and well worth the additionl fee.

Holland America Eurodam Evening Shows (Live Shows Review) We were able to attend most of the evening live shows on the Eurodam, nd we enjoyed all the various professional performances. The ship provides a daily schedule of activities in addition to nightly entertainment. No one should complain about not having enough to do on the Holland America Eurodam!

The tub/shower combo contains a handheld shower. (Bathroom Review) Shampoo, conditioner and liquid body soap are mounted on the wall and refilled by housekeeping as needed. The bathroom space was not huge, but it is sufficient if you use it one person at a time. Paula and I have vacationed overseas together before, and we share well. It reminded me of college roommates where it didn't take much time to figure out the most time-saving methods to shower, dress, put on your face, stay out of each other's way and still get to class on time.

Our Eurodam balcony was a good size (Balcony Review) with two rattan chairs, a small table and an ottoman, but it was too cold for us to make use of this space. I would dash out with my camera, snap a photo, then hurry back inside to thaw out. If it is THIS cold in August, I wondered when (if?) it warms up at all!

Shopping on the Holland America Eurodam: (Shopping Review) If you are a shopper, you'll love the Eurodam! There is truly something for everyone. High-end jewelry, amber, watches, a Faberge room, cruise apparel and souvenirs, all readily available. On our last day, the Eurodam hosted a big sale (lots of items for $10.) which reminded me a little of the indoor flea markets in Myrtle Beach! Shopping on the Eurodam is a fun experience, no matter your age or budget!

Holland America Eurodam Discount Wine - (Alcohol Card Review): Paula and I each purchased a wine/alcohol card and paid $90. for the $100. card. It took us a couple days to discover a bar on the Eurodam that offered Happy Hour prices, and it turned out to be a big savings. We would order 2 drinks during Happy Hour, usually the special of the day, followed by two wines which we "saved" to carry to dinner with us. The winde prices (not including Happy Hour) vary from bar to bar, and from restaurant to restaurant. For instance, the same wine might be $4. However, at say, the Explorations Cafe, even through it is the exact same wine, it could cost $8. at one of the other bars. I wish we had known about this before we boarded! I know...you're thinking "what penny-pinching companions they must be!"

Holland America Eurodam Excursions (Review Excursions) If I had it to do again I would skip the Copenhagen, Estonia and Stockholm excursions and book something with an outside company...or even take a good guide book and go out on my own. Ithought the fees were too high and that we did not get our money's worth from the tour guides. People believe it is safer to go with what is recommended by their ship. Add to that, the ship staff likes to point out that "if an outside company does not get you back to the boat in time we will be sailing without you." Actually, the "outside companies" are very much aware of departing times and they know the ship schedules as well as anyone. This is a ruse by the Holland America cruseline to encourage passengers to book with their (more expensive) shore tours through the boat staff itself.

And speaking of ourside tours, we were extremely pleased with our our 2-day St. Petersbutrg, Russia excursion as outlines on ny St. Petersburg page.

REVIEW CONS:

The Eurodam buffet breakfasts tend to get extremely crowded and you can easily find yourself walking back and forth with a tray of food and coffee, hoping to find a seat before yourt coffee gets cold. A good alternative is room service which was always prompt and effecient. This service, at no additional charge, is offered 24-hours a day.

My biggest gripe about the Eurodam involves the wi-fi. If you have no interest in the wi-fi service on your cruise, you should skip reading this part and review my photos at the bottom.

I can't be the only person who believes Internet connections should be included with the vacation price, just like electricity and water. Instead the Eurodam has an "added service" which is not a service at all, and is outrageously priced. The connections are dismal. I brought my own laptop, and paid the "Time Plan" as soon as I boarded the ship. 250 minutes for $100. I was seldom able to connect from our room (level 4, verandah suite) and shen I did, the connection was agonizingly slow. I would usually carry my laptop and upstairs to the Explorations Cafe in order to log on at all, and it was still next to impossible to stay online. The Explorations Cafe needs more service people because it sas very dufficult to find help. (Or maybe they saw me coming and hid in a closet.)

But the worst was yet to come! As the cruise ship neared the end of its voyage, we visited the front desk to ask about confirmations on our return flights. We were told that neither the ship nor the Holland America travel agent would confirm this for cruise guests. They expected us to "log onto the Internet and make our own confirmations." I was stunned! As soon as I heard that, I knew we were in deep trouble...not because we did not know how to do it, but because of the atrocious connections. Paula and I tried many times, both from my computer and from the computers that are available in the Explorations Cafe. But we continuously got the message "Too many users online." Or "Try again later." (Just like my old Magic 8 Ball!) If I lucked out and got logged in, it was next to impossible to get logged out, thus increasing the Internet charges. Here is a direct quote: "Wireless Internet Access: IMPORTANT! Don't forget to log off. To end your Internet session and discontinue log-in, simply type "logout.com" in your browser's address bar to end youre usernet session. There is no "simply" about the Internet connections of the Eurodam.. When I could not log oout, I felt as if I had entered one of Dante's Circles of Hell, condemed to watch my hard-earned money disappear inside a never-ending rolling beach ball. My Internet charge for this cruise $225.00, and that was after they wrote off $100. at my insistence. I had a list of times, connections and log off that I could not complete. (and was therefore charged even though all I saw was the bouncing ball .) If you are planning to use the wi-fi service on the Holland America Eurodam cruise, be certain to have a notebook handy, and write down each and every time you connect, the time you spent trying to log on without success, and the times when you wanted to log out but couldn't (and charged extra for something that was not your fault.) If you insist on a write-off they will honer it as long as you have a documented list. I'll bet Internet charges are one of the easiest ways for the Eurodam to make money hand over fist. The bottom line is this: There should be absolutely NO additional charge for this so-called service. Heck, they should pay us for the aggravation we experienced.

Overall, it was a fun and educational votage. The Holland America Surodam is abeautiful ship and we enjoyed the Baltic Cruise. My photos are below. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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Page 1. Photos from the Eurodam Page 5. Stockholm, Sweden
Page 2. Copenhagen and Berlin Page 6. St. Petersburg, Russia
Page 3. Tallinn, Estonia
Page 7. Cruise Review
Page 4. Helsinki, Finland
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Holland America Eurodam Baltic Review
Holland America Eurodam Baltic Review