Holland America Zuiderdam Repast (Part 2)

| December 26, 2008

Guest cruise writer Mary Martindale sends us her memories of meeting the Captain and executive chef for the HAL Zuiderdam in the Mediterranean last summer.

Oakes, a soft-spoken native of the U.K., has lived around most of the world and appreciates the line's international policy on food and beverage personnel. "What is really great here is the people we work with -- the Indonesians, the Philippinos -- we are opening a culinary school in Manila, we also have new training programs on board to help develop and maximize potential. I think it shows. We like to utilize the cooking skills of all our staff, Indian, Middle Eastern, Lebanese, each ship is different."

Today's cruiser can still go to the dining room for a well-rounded breakfast, even the old standard, Kippered Herring with Smothered Onions. Nightly dinners tempt guests with broad selections of seafood, meats and vegetarian dishes. Dishes range from the bistro-inspired to exotic Asian and homespun European. Desserts run from sweet masterpieces to simple cheeses with nuts and fruits.

Food can be a diversion as well as entertainment during a six-day crossing. Minneapolis' Guest Chef Paulette Mitchell, author of 13 cookbooks, presented formal cooking lessons in addition to separate demonstrations and catered a special dinner in the Pinnacle Dining room. Chefs Klaus and Rajeev also made presentations. Additionally, Kelly Bolt, Party Planner, held many food and entertaining demonstrations. The Culinary Arts Center was busy. Afternoon teas and nightly Cigars under the Stars were additional venues.

A fun time was the Mid-Atlantic Guest Crossing Party. "The tide is high but I'm holdin' on," the band rocked. This prompted much of the Zuiderdam's staff, crisp uniforms be-darned, shoulder boards askew and some passengers to jump into the Lido pool, jubilant over the so-far, half-way, smooth "crossing." The menu that day? A Portuguese fish fry, Holland America Dutch Pea Soup, assorted sides and kiwi-garnished, bluish-green Poseidon Cocktails. Make them at home with Midori, Blue Curacao and a little Sprite.

The Zuiderdam's winter schedule takes her to the Western Caribbean, including the Panama Canal and Costa Rica.

Mary Martindale's Bio:

A cultural social anthropology major, Mary Martindale concentrates on food and cruise writing. She started as a cruise business editor for an international weekly and soon added first-hand knowledge of megaships, panamaxes, elderhostel study cruising, exotic small ships, paddlewheelers, freighters, and spartan adventurers to luxury cruising with a penthouse and a butler. This was in stark contrast to her first cruise aboard the Yarmouth Castle, four bunks and a bath-down-the-hall. In l965, during a "whirlwind" $89 cruise package, they visited the ports of Freeport, Nassau, Cap Haitian and Santa Domingo. The Castle sank later that year.

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