Sister ship to the Volendam - but on the wild side with a musical-theme decor
Best For People Who Want
A Holland America who want to show a little bit of their "wild side" - Rock & Roll memorabilia throughout
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
A festive atmosphere; Broadway-style razzle-dazzle; late-night disco; single, open seating dining; dedicated facilities for kids.
Remember the old intrigue, is John Lennon really Bob Dylan? Well, have they ever been seen in the same room together? Well, has anyone ever seen Zuiderdam and a Carnival "Fun Ship" in the same room together?
Heretofore known for its decorousness, with Zuiderdam, Holland America goes for the glitz in a big, big, Carnival way, presumably in an attempt to lure younger passengers and families. You've never imagined how many blinding shades of red there are — and they're all over the Zuiderdam, the ship that aims to prove single-handedly that Holland America is no longer your spinster great-aunt's cruise line.
The ship is full of musical memorabilia - making it quite unlike any other Holland America ship. Bill Clinton's Saxophone, guitars signed by Iggy Pop and the Rolling Stones.
Now, keep in mind that when it was built it was pre-determined that it would sail on 7-day Caribbean cruises year-round. The idea was to build a "Caribbean ship" for Holland America in order to get the word out that Holland America is a Caribbean cruise line with appeal to younger audiences. Guess what, it worked. Holland America now attracts many baby boomers to its 7-day Caribbean cruises, but for the true Holland America feel we recommend that you opt for one of the three sister ships of Zuiderdam. That being said, this ship does have its admirers who travel on it time and again.
Once you get beyond the decor, the ship is still fully subscribed to Holland America's "Signature of Excellence" program of enhancements in nearly every area of the ship. New features include tableside waiter service at dinner in the Lido, a new Culinary Arts Program with show kitchen for demonstrations and classes, expansion of spa and fitness facilities, upgraded Club HAL Kids Centers, and new shore excursions.
Boarding visitors are greeted by the nearly 22-foot tall Dutch pipe organ at the foot of a three-deck high stairway. Zaandam may lack the breathtaking atrium typical of other ships built in the 1990s, but it also lacks some of those ships' confusing layout. The large Ocean Bar, with sea views by day and romantic lighting at night, is the most popular spot for pre- and post-dinner cocktails, though it gets serious competition from another cozy lounge with piano bar, the 89-seat Explorer's Lounge, decorated with gentle colors and enormous red lamps. A harpist performs light classical favorites here in the evening.
The glamorous two-story main dining rooms, framed with floor-to-ceiling windows, feature dramatic staircases and a classical trio holding forth demurely from a perch on the top level. Just outside the second level, ladies will find a wonderful, spacious powder room with ocean views.
The Mondriaan Lounge main show theater has two floors and a wide stage, with comfortable seating, though sight lines from the balcony are partially obscured. The Crows Nest observation lounge, with its 320-degree view, is the perfect place from which to watch your departure from port. The beautiful wood-paneled library has etched glass doors, comfortable chairs and ottomans, an inlaid marble table, and excellent reference and travel book sections. The nearby card room can simultaneously accommodate four dozen players.
Keep an eye open for the remarkable pianos aboard this ship. It is painted to look as though made of scrap lumber and rusty nails..
The unusually extensive main dining room menu features six appetizers, two soups, two salads, and six entrees for dinner, including vegetarian and low-fat options. The alternative Pinnacle Grill specializes in dishes featuring ingredients from the Northwest, where HAL is based. Free hot hors d'oeuvres are served every evening in the cocktail lounges. A delightful Royal Dutch High Tea, featuring sandwiches, petit fours, cookies, cakes, and the accompaniment of a string quartet is offered one afternoon each cruise.
There are tables for two, four, six and eight in the opulent two-level Rotterdam Dining Room, which benefits from sea views and a romantically twinkling, fiber optics-lit ceiling, Rosenthal china, sparkling crystal, and crisp linens. There are four dining seatings - 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Casual breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight buffets featuring ethnic cuisine are served in the Lido restaurant adjacent to the pool.
The cozy, intimate Pinnacle Grill on Promenade Deck specializes in the ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. Its dedicated galley includes 1600-degree grill. Bulgari china, unique holloware and a dedicated service staff enhance the elegant atmosphere, as too does the wine list, which features several California and Washington vintages not offered in the main dining room. Reservations are required and there is a $20 service charge.
Holland America's Indonesian and Filipino crew is warm and gracious, though not always as fluent in English as American and British passengers might prefer.
For years Holland America was known for its no-tipping policy, intended to make passengers believe that staff were doing it for love, rather than money. (Yeah, right.) Nowadays, though, gratuities of $10.00 per person (including children) are automatically added daily to the shipboard account for dining and stateroom service. Visit the front desk to adjust that amount. That a 15 percent service is automatically added to bar bills should surprise no one.
The main lounge presents variety shows, a lavish Broadway-style revue and an energizingly fervent dance production, not to mention the excruciatingly named "specta-crew-lar" in which crew members perform folkloric songs and dances. There's a jazz quartet in the Ocean Bar and fresh hot popcorn in the Wajang Theater, where you can see first-run films every afternoon and evening. Live sports broadcasts may be enjoyed in the Casino Bar.
Standard cabins are among the biggest at sea, and with a much more modern look than one usually associates with HAL, with lots of salmon-reds, burgundies, golds, and bronzes. Standard inside cabins are 182 sq. feet, while outside staterooms are 197 sq. feet, with enough storage space for even the long-haul traveler. Balcony cabins are sublime, with more unusually spacious interior cabins. The ultramodern 563-square foot suites have large private verandahs. The 120 deluxe category A and B cabins are 284 square feet (including verandah), each with VCR, mini bar, sitting area, and whirlpool tub in the bathroom. The Penthouse suites with private verandahs are a huge 1,100 square feet with appropriately wonderful amenities, including complimentary personalized stationery, afternoon hors d'oeuvres, free dry cleaning, and disembarkation at leisure.
Stateroom amenities include bathrobes, a complimentary fresh fruit basket on arrival, stainless steel ice buckets and serving trays for use with in-cabin beverages, and massage showerheads in every bathroom. For Deluxe Verandah and Penthouse Suite passengers, concierge service is available in their own private retreat, the Neptune Lounge.
The magnificent huge gyms on these ships are among the best at sea, with floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding dozens of state-of-the-art machines. The adjacent aerobics areas are comparably vast. The Steiner-run Ocean Spa has six treatment rooms with private shower and toilets. Two of the six rooms accommodate such wet treatments as hydrotherapy baths, seaweed wraps, and mud. The marvelous ocean-view gym has 11 treadmills, eight bikes, and an assortment of stairsteppers, rowing machines, Cybex weight training machines and free weights; aerobics area; dual sauna/steam rooms and a jogging track one deck above On the deck, comfy striped cushions line a large pool on Lido Deck covered by a retractable dome that makes the pool usable even in inclement weather.
Younger passengers are kept diverted with supervised Club HAL crafts, parties, and games for three age groups 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17, with the number of counselors allotted to each cruise dependent on the number of younger voyagers. The restaurant offers a children's menu. Baby-sitting is available at sea for $7.50 per child per hour.
On the two weekly formal nights, half the men opt for dark suit rather than renting a tuxedo. Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas.