Holland America Line’s Zuiderdam combines the traditions and values of classic cruising and the modern comforts found today throughout the cruise industry.. The Zuiderdam entered service with Holland America Line back in 2002 as a completely new design of ship for the cruise line. As the leading member of the Vista Class of ships, she is one of Holland America Line’s larger ships, but it still able to hold onto the feeling of an intimate, medium sized ship. Combining classic art pieces with a brighter interior design than most of Holland’s ships – she is truly unique unto herself.
The Zuiderdam also offers guests 3 unique specialty dining options: Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto, and Le Cirque. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner in each restaurant. Each restaurant offers guests a completely different menu as well as a unique atmosphere. While all enjoyable, the dining experience that stood out the most during my cruise was the Pinnacle Grill. In the Pinnacle Grill, I enjoyed one of the finest steaks I have had the opportunity too, but my dining experience was further elevated by the attentive and professional service of our waitress, Nina, and the Pinnacle Grill’s Host, Sam. Both Nina and Sam were attentive, accommodating, and seemed to truly care about providing a great dining experience for my fellow guests and I. In addition to the 3 specialty dining options, the Zuiderdam also features a main dining room, the Vista Dining Room. In the Vista, cruisers will find a variety of unique dishes tailored to the region of the world the ship is sailing in. Cruisers will also be happy to find cruise dining room staples such as lobster and the Baked Alaska parade.
The Zuiderdam not only provides guests with a variety of dining options, but many entertainment options as well. Onboard out particular cruise, the Zuiderdam had a great pair of comedians – Johnny Cardinale and Dan Bennett. Both comedians had hilarious, but unique routines that included the use of a guitar, juggling soccer balls, and balancing a bowling ball on your neck. If I could take away one thing from each act: Johnny Cardinale – every song is basically the same two chords. Dan Bennett – a name you can swear by.
In addition to the comedy acts, Holland America Line is also offering guests various dance classes and a huge fleet wide dance competition in partnership with Dancing With The Stars. During our cruise, the Zuiderdam’s entertainment staff hosted classes on the Cha Cha, the Jive, and the Waltz. At these classes, guests had the opportunity to learn dances from Dancing With The Stars as well as put their talents to the test in a competition to enter the finale show onboard. Once the judges had picked 2 finalists from each class, the 6 guests competed in the finals during the last production show of the cruise. The Dancing With The Stars finals production show was set up very similar to the TV show, featuring three judges and a set that replicated the dance hall from the show. Guests then took the stage in costumes to dance for the entire ship. Once they had finished dancing, the judges entered their scores and a winner was chosen. Now, the winner will have the chance to compete in a finale cruise in 2014 for the ultimate prize – the Mirror ball trophy.
Finally, guests can dance the night away in one of the Zuiderdam’s many lounges and clubs. For cruisers who prefer classical dancing, you can join the HALcats in the Ocean Bar and dance to music from the yesteryears. If you are young or still young at heart, head on down to Northern Lights to dance to the latest music from today. Even if dancing isn’t your thing, the Zuiderdam also features many more entertainment options such as a movie theater, board games in the Crow’s Nest, and trivia throughout the day. With all of the entertainment options aboard the Zuiderdam, odds are you will never experience a dull moment onboard.
While all cruise ship staterooms are pretty similar in design and layout, the Zuiderdam’s staterooms featured a few additional amenities. The most important one: a privacy curtain for the bathroom corridor. For families, this is great. Now, instead of showering and changing in the notoriously small cruise ship bathroom, you can actually change in the corridor with the closets in full privacy. Secondly, the storage space in the Zuiderdam’s staterooms is exceptionally large. Most staterooms feature 3 large closets that have both hangar and shelf space. For staterooms that are meant to accommodate more than 2 people, 2 additional closets are added in the seating area. The balconies aboard the Zuiderdam are also exceptionally large when compared to the industry standard. The balconies have something not usually seen in the cruise industry – padded wicker furniture. This padded amenity is especially great for whale watching and glacier gazing for an Alaskan cruise. Also, an added perk most don’t know about – each stateroom features a selection of 100’s of movies that can be ordered to your stateroom – complimentary. All you have to do is call the front office, order a movie from the booklet in your stateroom, and the movie will be delivered to your stateroom. A little known amenity that can easily turn a night in your stateroom into family movie night. My only complaint about the staterooms would be the lack of shelf space in the bathroom. While the bathroom does have a mirror cabinet, there is underutilized space to the right of the sink that could be a great spot for a few shelves. Regardless, the Zuiderdam’s staterooms are spacious, cozy, and a great home away from home.
The Zuiderdam’s crew was professional, accommodating, but most importantly to me – they seemed happy doing what they do. No need was overlooked, no request was out of mind. The crew aboard the Zuiderdam seemed to be genuinely happy to be working for Holland America Line and I think it’s due in part by Holland America Line’s great care for its employees. On the Zuiderdam, the crew were given multiple opportunities to share their heritage and culture with the guests aboard. One of these opportunities is The Filipino Crew Show. This show was a chance for the crew of the Zuiderdam to relax, have some fun, and share their beautiful culture with the guests. From traditional Filipino dances, songs, dress, and language – it is truly a great time for guests to learn more about their hardworking crew and for the crew to be the stars for a night. Not only was this show popular with me, but it was one of the most attended shows of the cruise. I believe this opportunity for the crew to take center stage helps contribute to their overall work ethic aboard the Zuiderdam. Overall, it truly is amazing how the crew, with long hours and sometimes stressful work, are able to always have a smile for each guest.
The Zuiderdam, while having a name that is Dutch for “south,” is perfectly suited for the north. One of her most prominent “northern friendly features” is her retractable roof over the main Lido area. While it may be a chilly 30 degrees outside, it will always stay warm and cozy on her Lido. Even if you do decide to venture out on deck, blankets can be found in cubbies along her decks to be used while you relax in one of the ship’s many padded, wooden loungers. Blankets are also provided in each balcony stateroom for the use of the guests on their private balcony. The Zuiderdam also has many unique sightseeing spots. For example, guests can sit in the Crow’s Nest and enjoy a cup of coffee from the Exploration’s Cafe on deck 10 while viewing Alaskan vistas through the 180 degree windows. On Glacier Bay day, her bow area is opened up to guests for sightseeing and whale watching. Plus, my favorite amenity – warm hot chocolate in the buffet for those chilly walks along her wrap around promenade. The Zuiderdam is great ship for chilly, Alaskan cruising.
Personally, Holland America Line’s Zuiderdam is one of my favorite ships I have sailed. From her fine dining, to her array of entertainment options, to her outstanding and always courteous crew – she is a fine ship. The Zuiderdam truly has a unique and workable blend of the traditional cruising experience Holland America Line is known for and the modern amenities and comforts we have come to know in the modern cruise industry. The Zuiderdam is a fine example of the quality and service that defines Holland America Line and sets the standard for the cruise industry.