The Zuiderdam (rhymes with "cider") first set sail in 2003, meaning it has more amenities and presumably more personal space than older ships. The décor is red and blue, reminding me of a dated Vegas casino. It’s a shame that Holland America didn’t use this opportunity to create a ship with clean, simple lines and a more contemporary palette of sea and shore pastels. Oh, what Martha Stewart could have done with the decorating!
The Staterooms **** (4 stars)
We had a middle-of-the-line Veranda cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows with a glass door and a nice private balcony. The beds featured soft linens (300 count sheets?) and thick 12-inch mattresses. We liked the fact that the bathroom had a tub and was intelligently designed with a space-saving shelf below the sink for our toiletries. Ship toiletries were adequate. The water pressure was great with hot water that was hot and cold that was cold (not always the case in hotels.) Our balcony had two comfortable lounging chairs and a small table. We spent every afternoon enjoying happy hour with a glass of wine on our balcony. Sound-proofing was excellent—I am normally a light sleeper, but I didn’t hear anything.
The Food *** (2.5 stars)
I thought the food was average, but it should be noted that we were only onboard for three days, so we didn’t have time to explore and learn about all the dining options. Cafeteria-style meals were served in the Lido. Breakfast was the same as every other breakfast buffet I’ve ever attended; lunch was rather monotonous with similar menus the first three days. Dinner in the Vista Dining Rooms were very nice with an extensive menu including a variety of meats and seafood. Our first evening's meal was spent in the Pinnacle Grill, the ship's more private and upscale restaurant. They had a "sale" on the Pinnacle Grill for the first night of the sailing and we took advantage of it to enjoy dinner as we departed Vancouver for an additional fee of $10 (rather than $20 per person). Our Pinnacle meals were excellent—they would hold their own in New York—and the service was attentive.
q Don’t bother with the ship casino—the empty seats were a clue that the slot machines didn’t pay out.
q The Internet connections worked well, but the fee is 75 cents a minute (luckily, I won 100 free minutes).
q If you’re on a cruise-land tour with only three days aboard the ship, skip the one "formal night" in the Vista Dining Room m and opt for a casual dinner in the Lido cafeteria-—we had to lug our formal wear all over Alaska, which was an annoyance.
q Be sure to attend the first "ship tour"—we were initially disappointed that it was basically an infomercial for paid services on the ship (i.e., spa and liquor store) but they gave away several prizes (free champagne, internet service—which I won—free meal upgrade etc.)
q Bring a Thermos—I loved getting coffee and returning to my private balcony for my morning coffee.