Zaandam

Holland America Line

Ship information

Zaandam

About Zaandam

Zaandam is a classy ship that proves you don't need gadgets and gimmicks to have a good time. It's an older ship, sure, and lacking in balconies, but that also means you'll find spacious inside and outside cabins with tons of storage and bathrooms with tubs, a full wraparound promenade complete with teak deck chairs and cozy blankets, and not so much nickel and diming.

With just 1,432 passengers, the ship rarely feels crowded, and passengers can enjoy a truly relaxing vacation at sea. It's easy to get everywhere, with only 10 decks. Lounges are plentiful, whether for an afternoon game of cards or post-dinner drink. Holland America Line generally appeals to a mature crowd, especially with Zaandam's longer cruises, but short cruises will bring in families, who take advantage of the top-deck kids club, the all-weather pool with retractable roof and variety of board games and puzzles in the Explorations Cafe.

The Pinnacle Grill is always one of our favorite specialty restaurants at sea, and the main dining room is a pleasure at breakfast and fine (but not amazing) at dinner. We were impressed with the variety and quality of offerings at the pool grill and the buffet, even if we wished the latter were open longer hours. Room service is mostly complimentary -- a nice touch.

If you're looking for nonstop activities or fast-paced nightlife, Zaandam is not the ship for you. You'll find more party bridge than late-night partying. Entertainment is not necessarily a strong point, but that may change in 2020 when the line's

Music Walk

venues are added to the ship. Activities lean toward computer classes, afternoon tea and cooking demos; shuffleboard and table tennis are other popular pastimes. Daily trivia sessions, including evening music trivia, bring in the crowds.

Service was unremarkable, but crew were always friendly and would greet us in the hallways. Turn-down chocolates and towel animals remain a nightly ritual to look forward to.

Zaandam is a perfect choice for those who prefer low-key entertainment in spacious surroundings, port-focused itineraries and reasonable, but not overwhelming, dining options. It's classy and classic, and a lovely home for seeing the world.

Cabins

Zaandam has 26 cabin types available

Inside Cabins

7 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

7 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

7 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

7 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

7 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

7 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

7 Inside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

11 Outside types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

10 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Theater

The Mainstage Theater (Decks 4 and 5) hosts daytime events, such as shore excursion and destination talks, enrichment lectures and bingo. In the evenings, performances included song-and-dance shows by the ship's 10-person company, guest performers (such as comedians, ventriloquists, magicians and soloists) or Holland America Line exclusives such as the BBC Earth Experiences live show "Planet Earth II in Concert."

Theater shows were well attended and can be a pleasant way to spend an evening, but could easily be missed. The BBC Earth show is an exception as it's different from anything we've seen on a cruise ship before. A live band plays the background music to short sequences from BBC's documentary of life in the animal world, which can be surprisingly dramatic and humorous; trust us, you'll be on the edge of your seat.

Daily Fun

The cruise staff hosts bingo, trivia quizzes and games (bridge, mah jongg, basketball shootouts, soccer goal scoring) on sea days, with some limited options on port days. Beverage events, like beer and cocktail tastings, are available for a fee.

An afternoon movie is shown in the Wajang Theater every afternoon; America's Test Kitchen cooking demos also take place there a few times per cruise. The wall with the movie screen retracts to reveal a show kitchen; the chef's moves are filmed for close-up viewing on the two flat-screen TVs.

Zaandam has limited activities developed in partnership with "O, The Oprah Magazine," including O's Reading Room, in which passengers can borrow copies of a book on the first few days of the cruise and discuss it toward the end of the sailing.

As part of Holland America's Explorations Central, the cruise and travel director gives various talks about what to do in the ports of call, as well as the history and culture of the areas visited. They also host office hours at the EXC desk on Deck on Deck 4 so you can ask questions.

Also available is the Microsoft Digital Workshop program, comprised of complimentary tech classes. Passengers can learn to use computers to enhance and organize photos, produce and publish videos and make 3D drawings. They can also learn more about Windows' latest operating system. The host offers drop-in Q&A sessions, as well. Sessions take place in a dedicated Digital Workshop classroom on Deck 5 that's easy to miss.

The spa and shops put on various events with the end goal of getting you to buy something. Affinity group meeting times (e.g., Friends of Bill W., Friends of Dorothy) are posted in the daily program.

For something different, swing by the atrium around noon on a sea day, when the pipe organ plays, and its statuettes come to life, banging drums and waving batons.

Once per cruise, all Holland America ships offer On Deck for a Cause, a 5K walk to benefit cancer research. If you donate $20 or more, you'll get a free T-shirt.

At Night

Evenings are generally low-key on Zaandam. Live music can be heard in the Ocean Bar and Explorer's Lounge, while a pianist entertains in Mix. Shows are well attended. There's generally a predinner trivia round and a postdinner board game (like Taboo or Pictionary) in the Crow's Nest. Late-night dancing starts at 10:30 p.m.

Note that in 2020, Holland America will add its popular Music Walk to Zaandam. The Explorer's Lounge will become Lincoln Center Stage and the piano bar in Mix will turn into Billboard Onboard with dueling pianists. A spot has yet to be finalized for B.B. King's Blues Club. These venues are known for drawing a crowd and getting people dancing, which could liven up Zaandam's evening offerings.

The casino has table games (Texas Hold'em, Caribbean stud, blackjack), roulette and slot machines. Keep an eye out for notices of casino-based tournaments and competitions.

Zaandam Bars and Lounges

Ocean Bar (Deck 5): At the top of the atrium, the Ocean Bar is a popular spot for grabbing a pre- or postdinner drink with a view. Don't miss the special cocktails curated for Holland America by Dale DeGroff found on regular bar menus and as daily specials. A quartet with a singer performs here in the evenings.

Mix (Deck 5): Across from the shops, Mix is appropriately a mix of bars sharing one space. There's a piano bar for evening sing-alongs, a wine bar with enomatic dispensers, a martini bar and an ale and spirits bar. Various, extra-fee beverage-focused events take place here, as well as the occasional music trivia. (The piano bar portion of Mix is scheduled to turn into Billboard Onboard in Zaandam's spring 2020 dry dock.)

Explorations Cafe (Deck 5): Get your fill of caffeine here with extra-fee specialty coffees and tea, both iced and hot. A limited selection of free and for-a-fee cookies and pastries are found here, too.

Explorer's Lounge (Deck 5): This lounge is set up with rows of chairs, appropriate for the classical concerts put on in the evenings. It will officially become Lincoln Center Stage during Zaandam's 2020 dry dock.

Lido Bar (Deck 8): More than just the place to get a bucket of beer by the pool, the Lido Bar has a lovely fenced-in seated area with tables and shade umbrellas.

Sea View Bar (Deck 8): The bar located by the aft pool has limited hours on port days, opening at 6 p.m.

Crow's Nest (Deck 9): The top-of-ship lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows is a hub, day and night. The most coveted seats are the reclining chairs with ottomans where people read and nap by day. It's popular during scenic sail-aways for a predinner drink and hosts games day and night, as well as late-night dancing. A nightly happy hour, around 9 p.m., offers your second drink for $2.

Zaandam Outside Recreation

Pools

The midship swimming pool and two adjacent hot tubs on Deck 8 have a retractable magrodome for use in inclement weather. They are surrounded by a mix of padded lounge chairs and tables and chairs.

The aft Seaview Pool is on the same deck, overlooking the wake, with two cow statues reclining peacefully in the wading section that surrounds the swimming area. Furnishings are similar to the main pool, with lounge chairs around the pool and tables and chairs by the bar, close to the Lido Marketplace.

Recreation

Deck 9 is the ship's sports deck with a paddle tennis court on one side and a basketball court on the other, as well as two shuffleboard courts. Two Ping-Pong tables are set up by the pool.

The wraparound promenade on Deck 3 is popular with walkers doing laps and readers who curl up on padded teak lounge chairs, tucked in (when it's chilly) with provided wool blankets.

Sun Decks

Zaandam has a few somewhat hidden slices of sun deck, found on Deck 2 aft and Deck 6 forward. Access is at the end of cabin hallways. Up top, there is some extra sun deck space on Deck 10 forward (above the Crow's Nest) and on Deck 9 aft, tucked behind the sports courts and alongside Club HAL and The Loft. The sun deck space right above used to be for teen use, but is now a crew-only area.

Zaandam Services

Zaandam is an easy ship to navigate; all public areas and services are located on either Decks 4 and 5 or Decks 8 and 9. However, the ship's galley blocks access to the dining room on Deck 4, so you must go up or down one deck to the rear stairway to reach the main level of the dining room.

Passengers can choose to purchase access to the

Club Orange

priority program, which gives cruisers priority embarkation, debarkation, tendering and dinner seating; small enhancements to dinner and room service menus; and other perks. The cost is $25 per person, per day, and must be purchased by the first two passengers sharing a cabin.

The atrium, spanning Decks 4 and 5 is not high-ceilinged or impressive, but it makes a statement with a two-deck white organ in the center, which is played daily at noon. Surrounding it on Deck 4 are guest services and the EXC shore excursions desk. Also, on this deck are the art and photo galleries, with a photo studio tucked away in one corner of the photo gallery, and the underused EXC desk, where the cruise and travel director holds office hours.

Deck 5 houses the shops, selling fine jewelry, duty-free cigarettes and alcohol, perfume, logo items, sundries and more. There's a special boutique called Mirabella devoted to fine jewelry. There are two meeting rooms, Hudson and King's rooms, and a Future Cruise desk for those who'd like to book another Holland America cruise while onboard. The Explorations Cafe is an all-purpose space that houses the ship's library and collection of board games to borrow, tables for communal puzzles and internet terminals. The Digital Workshop is hidden on this deck as well.

Speaking of internet, the ship sells various Wi-Fi packages for use on your personal devices or on the ship's computers. The Social plan lets you connect to a limited number of popular social media websites and apps, and costs $14.99 for 24 hours or $69.99 per seven-night cruise. The Surf plan adds access to additional websites, such as sports, news and email, for $24.99/day or $99.99/week. The Premium plan gives more bandwidth, allowing for audio/video chats and streaming, as well as regular browsing and app use. It costs $29.99/day or $139.99/week.

If your cruise is longer than a week, full voyage Wi-Fi prices will vary, but generally offer a savings over the 24-hour rate. Also, prorated plans are offered if you want to sign up for Wi-Fi access halfway through your cruise.

The Neptune Lounge on Deck 7 is for the exclusive use of Neptune and Pinnacle Suite passengers. It offers comfortable seating and TVs, a concierge, computer stations with internet and printers, and an honor bar (pour your own drinks and mark what you took in a ledger for later billing).

There's a medical center on Deck 1. All self-service launderettes have been removed.

Dining

Dining on Zaandam ranges from average to excellent. Dinners in the main dining room were fine but not rave-worthy, though we appreciated the expansive breakfast menu and peaceful ambiance. The Pinnacle Grill is a wonderful dinner experience, no matter your dietary restrictions; its pop-up Sel de Mer we didn't find worth the price and the Italian Canaletto was fine but nothing special.

Casual offerings were sleeper hits. The buffet has an impressive salad bar, daily sushi and multiple made-to-order egg/crepe/waffle stations -- plus a popular ice cream sundae bar with extended hours. The pool grill has interesting options and the best fries onboard. Room service is almost entirely free of charge, which is appreciated.

Our biggest complaint was that we wished the buffet were open longer hours; it always seemed to close just as we got there. This isn't actually a problem unless you're a late diner or have a late tour.

Free Dining

The Dining Room (Decks 4 and 5)
Meals: Breakfast (B), Dinner (D)

Zaandam's two-story main dining room is located at the very back of the ship with views of the ship's wake. The upper level is reserved for passengers with set-seating dining at roughly 5:15/5:30 p.m. and 7:30/8 p.m. (Exact times vary by cruise, based on passenger patterns on different itineraries.) The lower level is for flexible dining, and passengers can arrive anytime between 5 and 9 p.m. These diners can choose to make reservations in advance or walk in when hungry.

One section of Deck 4 is reserved for Club Orange members (suite passengers and those who pay for the priority program). These passengers have a special check-in line and receive one exclusive entree option each evening.

The Dining Room serves breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea, but not lunch. The breakfast menu is extensive, with the usual offerings of cereal, breakfast breads and pastries, pancakes/waffles and egg dishes and also more interesting options such as an Indian aloo masala and egg bhurji and banana bread French toast.

Afternoon tea is lovely, but you don't get any choices. Waiters pour one type of tea (in our case, Darjeeling) and present a three-tiered tray with finger sandwiches, petits fours and scones already dotted with cream and jam.

At dinner, the menu offers starters, soups and salads, and entrees (with one regional special). Most dishes change daily, but a few favorite starters and entrees are always available. Dishes are labeled vegetarian, gluten-free and nondairy. For an additional fee, you can enjoy a broiled whole lobster ($25) or a 36-oz. bone-in ribeye steak ($75).

It's not advertised, but Zaandam offers a separate vegetarian menu (simply request it from your waiter) and an Indian menu (with both meat and vegetarian options, but you must place your order 24 hours in advance). The Indian food we tried was delicious and a bit more flavorful than many of the regular menu entrees.

Portions are generally moderate, so you can eat three courses and not feel overly stuffed.

A separate menu lists desserts, some of which are sugar-free, gluten-free or nondairy. A cheese plate and ice cream are always available.

Service is friendly, though sometimes meals seem to drag a bit.

Lido Market (Deck 8)

Meals: B, Lunch (L), D

The Lido Market is Zaandam's buffet venue. It serves all meals and late-night snacks, but does close between meals, which can be frustrating when your eating schedule is thrown off by a late morning or a late tour. The ice cream bar stays open through the afternoon, as does the salad bar, and there's often midday snacks (sandwiches and sweets -- the cookies are dangerously good on this ship) set out next to the ice cream station. One water/coffee station is open round the clock.

A station system cuts down on lines; however, the majority of stations are no longer self-serve, which can increase wait times for things like salad. Note that while port and starboard serving lines are mostly identical, one station on each side is different. At breakfast, you'll find a poached egg station on one side and a crepe/waffle station on the other. At lunch, it's Asian (with sushi) versus Italian and pasta.

Breakfast offers a nice mix of hot and cold items, and separate stations for scrambled/fried eggs, omelettes and poached eggs/eggs Benedict to cut down wait times. At lunch, you'll find the aforementioned Italian and Asian, plus a station with premade and made-to-order sandwiches, a carving station, uninspired pizza, an expansive salad bar, a selection of hot entrees and sides and dessert.

Dinner is similar to lunch, but with fewer choices. Oddly, the buffet has shorter opening hours and closes earlier (8 p.m.) than the dining room. Late-night snacks are offered 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. with comfort food favorites.

Dive-In (Deck 8)

Meals: L

Located by the main pool, Dive-In is the place to order a variety of burgers, as well as grilled chicken or portobello mushroom sandwiches, hot dogs and fries. A small buffet station offers a taco bar, or a themed buffet in select ports. (For example, in Quebec City, it became a poutine bar.) Dive-In has extended lunch hours (11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and is a good option for grabbing a quick meal when your shore excursion departs midday or returns late.

Room Service

Meals: 24/7

There is free 24-hour room service, with only a couple of breakfast items delivered for a fee (free to suite and Club Orange members). The mainly continental breakfast also offers some egg dishes and can be ordered via a card you hang on your door the night before. The daytime menu features starters, salads, a couple of hot entrees and desserts; a shortened version of that menu is available from 11 p.m. onward. One nice touch is a kids dinner menu, with options such as PB&J, mac 'n' cheese and chicken strips.

Fee Dining

Pinnacle Grill (Deck 4): $39 for dinner, $15 for lunch

Meals: L, D

The Pinnacle Grill

(Deck 4) is Zaandam's nicest dining venue, with a date-night atmosphere. It's a steak and seafood restaurant with a Pacific Northwest theme, serving "responsibly raised" beef from Washington's Double R Ranch and fish from Alaska. It mainly serves dinner, but on sea days, it offers lunch from a smaller menu with a reduced price tag.

The main dinner menu is divided into appetizers, entrees and desserts, with entrees further divided into seafood (Alaskan king crab or salmon), steak (ranging from 7 to 23 oz. cuts) and chops and classics (which covers nonsteak meats and poultry and vegetarian options). Sides are ordered separately and are served to share. Don't miss the highlighted dishes by Culinary Council member Chef David Burke in all categories from appetizer to dessert; they are more creative, often with fun presentation.

An additional entree will cost $15; adding a lobster tail to your steak order to make surf 'n' turf is an additional $10. Kids 12 and under pay half price; meals are free if they order off the regular kids' menu. Vegetarians and gluten-free diners can be accommodated.

Sel de Mar (Deck 4): $49

Meals: D

Once per cruise, the Pinnacle Grill becomes Sel de Mer, a French seafood dining experience from Holland America's Master Chef Rudi Sodamin. If you're a foodie and want to indulge, plan to make this dinner the star attraction of your evening; meals take close to three hours. If you're not a huge seafood-lover, you're better off saving your money and booking your date night at the regular Pinnacle Grill.

While you'll want to get the most for your money, pace yourself. Portions are humongous, and it's almost distressing how much food you'll leave on your plates. The appetizer course offers a beautifully presented seafood tower and the biggest escargot we've ever seen, but you can also pay an additional $25 for a massive plate of fruits de mer (best shared among a large table).

Entrees are mostly seafood, but there's also lamb, steak, duck and an enormous vegetarian goat cheese souffle. The broiled Maine lobster was the only reasonable-sized portion we saw, consisting of two tails. Sides are ordered per person, with truffled mashed potatoes and ratatouille getting good reviews.

Don't miss the beautifully presented tree of truffles and strawberries that comes with every meal. Other desserts include crepes Suzette and Rudi's vanilla and berry souffle.

Canaletto (Deck 8): $19

Meals: D

It's easy to miss Canaletto, Zaandam's Italian specialty restaurant, because it occupies one corner of the Lido Marketplace. The location isn't especially atmospheric, but it's a not-too-expensive alternative when you're looking for a different dining experience one night.

The menu is divided into small plates, large plates and desserts, with a daily special, such as veal saltimbocca or chicken parmigiana. Small plates include veal polpettine and mozzarella di bufala, while large plates cover your pasta and meat dishes. Desserts are typical Italian treats like tiramisu and gelato. Gluten-free, nondairy and vegetarian items are marked.

Canaletto's signature drink is a refreshing aperol spritz, and the bread basket is not to be missed. We weren't particularly wowed by our meal, but for a fairly low specialty dining fee, it's fun to try a different venue, especially on longer cruises.