Zuiderdam

Holland America Line

Ship information

Zuiderdam

About Zuiderdam

With its traditional heritage and older demographic, you might expect a cruise on Holland America's Zuiderdam to be a placid affair. Wrong. Thanks to interesting enrichment partnerships and outstanding entertainment choices, we found ourselves going from morning to night.

What kept us so busy? A morning mindfulness session developed by editors at "O, The Oprah Magazine." Cooking demonstrations with "America's Test Kitchen." BBC Earth movies. Afternoon classical music concerts at the Lincoln Center Stage. Singing along to the dueling pianos at Billboard Onboard. Watching the passengers get down in the B.B. King's Blues Club. Add in trivia sessions, wine tastings, mainstage shows and (if you're a PC fan) a full schedule of Microsoft Digital Workshop classes, and we barely had time to eat.

Zuiderdam received the full line-up of HAL features in a late 2017 refurbishment; the ship itself dates back to 2002. There are still some places where the vessel shows its age -- the polar bear in the pool area needs to go (while Zuiderdam sails Alaska, it also does Panama Canal and European itineraries), as does the strange throne-like bench in the aft pool -- but overall, the refresh brought some life to an older ship. We were particularly cheered by the USB ports near the bed in the cabins, although we still feel the rooms lacked storage.

On a previous Zuiderdam cruise, we gave the ship excellent marks for logistics. For example, our time on the ship was part of an Alaskan cruise tour, and passengers both embarked and disembarked in Skagway. Zuiderdam staff had the process down to a science; our room was ready when we boarded the ship and luggage arrived promptly. We found similar attention to detail on a subsequent partial Panama Canal transit; despite an array of tours and a tricky time-sensitive tendering operation, the cruise ship staff had their act together to make the operation run smoothly, with competent and efficient service that we found throughout the ship. And, it's that consistency that makes a cruise on Zuiderdam a fail-safe proposition.

Cabins

Zuiderdam has 29 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

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

7 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

11 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Theater

The Vista Lounge Theater, on Decks 2 and 3, serves as the main entertainment venue for Zuiderdam. The seats are red plush, with plenty of legroom. Most evenings, the ship has musical performances with its staff of singers and dancers, a comedian or a magician. The stage has been updated in recent years with an LED system, and the best performances we saw took advantage of this -- the Billboard show with the Zuiderdam singers and dancers was particularly effective. Another standout on the mainstage was "Frozen Earth," a performance that utilized two of the line's partnerships -- BBC and "Live from Lincoln Center." The classical musicians played while gorgeous imagery from the world's Polar Regions were broadcast on a screen.

Daily Fun

In recent years, Holland America has doubled down on the number of branded partnerships that it has: the roster currently includes BBC Earth, Oprah’s O magazine, Microsoft Windows and America's Test Kitchen. All of the enrichment events and activities sponsored by these affiliates are in addition to usual cruise ship activities, such as trivia, bingo, art auctions, wine tastings, dance lessons, mixology sessions and port presentations (certain events require an extra fee). As a result, it's almost impossible to get bored.

Holland America signed up with America's Test Kitchen in 2016, and the B.B. King Blues Club doubles as a space for sea day cooking demonstrations. Although you don't get to taste (boo!), the presenter on our sailing made up for it with actionable tips and a down-to-earth manner that made it easy to follow along. Sheets with recipes and recommended products are also distributed at each session.

A small Screening Room on Deck 3 shows second-run movies and BBC Earth movies several times a day. On some days, there's a special BBC Earth trivia held in the Explorations Central lounge.

Once per voyage, there's an O magazine book discussion group. Unfortunately, we didn't know what the book was before we left, so we weren't prepared to join. (Apparently, we also missed the early notice in the daily program; the book was sold in the shops so if you're a fast reader, you can catch up.) The O magazine partnership also holds mindfulness sessions near the Lido pool in the early mornings, as well as healthy eating seminars.

Microsoft has a branded computer room on Deck 2. As many as six class sessions a day were held on our cruise, on topics such as "tell your stories with photos" and "Windows 10 security." (Apple users were out of luck.)

On Alaska voyages, a national park ranger joins the ship for a day of commentary and several lectures, which you can listen to in the public areas or in your cabin. There's also a polar dip in the Lido outdoor swimming pool, and hot Dutch pea soup is served to passengers viewing glaciers on the outer decks in Glacier Bay.

On Panama Canal sailings, commentary is given as you go through the locks. The front bow is open to passengers early, with coffee and Panama sweet buns served. Don't miss the port talks on the Canal given by the Explorations Central staff; this is one experience where you might want some professional guidance before picking your excursions to make sure you're getting exactly what you want out of the day.

At Night

The Casino anchors the ship's busiest entertainment area on Deck 2; it's a nonsmoking area. You'll find slot machines, poker, blackjack, craps and roulette.

Once a cruise, Zuiderdam hosts a pub crawl that becomes quite rowdy, as the beverage manager leads up to 90 chanting passengers from bar to bar. The $19.95 fee includes four drinks, and that's not including the beer you'll down during the chugging game held at the Lido Bar. If you've been wondering where the young passengers are on your cruise, you'll find them here; that being said, the oldest participant when we went was 83 years old.

Zuiderdam Bars and Lounges

With three musical partnerships -- B.B. King Blues Club, "Live from Lincoln Center" and Billboard Onboard (the latter two spaces added in a 2017 refurbishment) -- the ship has a fair amount of energy at night. A Holland America ship will never be rocking past midnight, but until then, the Music Walk on Deck 2, where the clubs are located, is fairly lively.

Holland America offers several drink packages, including both nonalcoholic (the Quench non-alcoholic drink package; $17.95 per day) and alcohol-inclusive options. A 15-percent gratuity is added to the price. Both passengers in the cabin have to get the drink package, and there's a daily limit of 15 drinks.

If you like to have a bottle with dinner, packages separate the wine into three "cellar" categories, and you can buy four, six or eight bottles for one price, depending on what package you purchase. You're allowed to bring one bottle of wine per person onboard for free; otherwise, you pay a corkage fee of $18 (which is fairly reasonable when you see bottle prices).

Billboard Onboard (Deck 2): Adjacent to the casino (the machines' sounds are turned down at night so the ringing doesn't compete), Billboard Onboard has two dueling pianos with performers playing the number one hits you can't help singing along to. Chairs are comfy (although during the first performance of the night it can be hard to get a seat!) and cool screens on the wall give you information about the song that's being played. The performers here were gregarious and talented, joking with passengers and playing most requests. A typical evening included two themed shows, like 1960s or country, with the last performance being all request.

Gallery Bar (Deck 2): Located where the ship's disco once was, the Gallery Bar is now a cross between a library and living room. Several large screen TVs make it a comfy place to watch big games, and the bar itself specializes in whiskeys and cognacs. It's often the spot for 10 p.m. happy hours. During the day, this is where small groups sometimes meet.

B.B. King Blues Club (Deck 2): The B.B. Blues Club has a stage and a dance floor that's often busy when the band plays R&B, soul, jazz and rock hits. On nights that the band is on, there are three shows and most are packed. When the band quits at 11:15 p.m., a DJ spins all-request dance songs (although the crowd mostly clears out at this point).

Pinnacle Bar (Deck 2): Across the atrium from the Pinnacle Grill, this bar is a quiet spot for pre-dinner drinks.

Lincoln Center Stage (Deck 2): "Live from Lincoln Center" brings classical music to Zuiderdam. A quintet usually played three shows daily, one in the afternoon and two in the evening. Performances showcased Brahms, music from the movies and ballet, among others. A sign warns passengers to be quiet while passing by during performances. If you want a seat, get to performances early.

Explorer's Lounge (Deck 2): This bar holds the overflow from the Lincoln Center Stage during performances and is a comfy place to hang out when the musicians aren't playing. While there's no bar, drinks are sold from a cart.

Ocean Bar (Deck 3): Circling the atrium, the Ocean Bar provides perfect people-watching, both for passengers going to dinner and those outside walking the Promenade. A pianist plays before dinner and happy hour specials are served here.

Seaview Bar (Deck 9): Adjacent to the aft pool, Seaview provides the usual fruity cocktails and mocktails.

Lido Bar (Deck 9): Another active bar for the pool set. On an Alaska cruise, this was the place to find Alaskan Brewing Company beer on tap and in bottles. On sea days in warm climates, servers often circulate with mimosa and bloody mary fixings.

Explorations Central at the Crow's Nest (Deck 10): Stretching across the front of the ship, this lounge is not just one of best places on the ship to get a drink with a view, it's the destination center for your cruise. The space includes a small circular cafe counter with specialty coffees and free pastries. Tables nearby are designed for puzzles, and there is also an array of board games that you can check out.

In addition, the space has the ship's excursion desk where passengers can book tours or get information on the next port. There are also cool touch tables that have info on the ports that you'll be visiting. On the port side of the lounge, there's a presentation space where basic language lessons are offered or port lectures are held. Cruisers can share their opinions with the interactive Question of the Day station, which asks a daily travel-themed question for people to answer. Ship geeks will like the digital displays that mimic what the captain sees on the bridge -- azipod status, propeller rotation rates, speed, ocean depth, etc. There's also a very limited library, composed mostly of coffee table books.

Zuiderdam Outside Recreation

Pools

Zuiderdam has two pools onboard. The aft pool, on Deck 9, has a shallow section appropriate for children, and an odd piece of art that doubles as a bench in it. There are two hot tubs here, as well as covered areas to eat and drink.

Also on Deck 9 -- under a retractable roof -- the Lido Deck pool features a large polar bear statue (which might fit Alaska but looks extremely strange in the warm Caribbean). We found that this space worked better in a cold climate, where the roof gives you just the right amount of element exposure, than the Panama Canal, where the enclosure made the humidity unbearable. Although this area is supposed to be child-free, we saw many kids using the three hot tubs and pool on our Alaska cruise. Light pop songs serve as a soundtrack and there are plenty of lounge chairs.

Recreation

The ship has an outdoor basketball court and volleyball court on Deck 11. During Glacier Bay cruising, outdoor sports decks are closed because of the national park regulations.

Sun Decks

Besides the pool areas, Zuiderdam has sun decks and loungers around Decks 10 and 11 behind the funnel. You can also find deck chairs down on Deck 3.

For those looking for extra privacy and pampering, The Retreat is a fee-only cabana retreat area on Deck 10. The cabanas, which can be rented per day or for an entire cruise, are shaded tents with lounge chairs and sun beds. The area also has an exclusive bar and private elevator near the spa; a light lunch is also served. The price of the Retreat varies, costing $125 on sea days and $75 on port days.

Zuiderdam Services

The front desk is located on Deck 1, just off the atrium. Deck 3 is the ship's main public area. Here you'll find the photo gallery, where you can buy pictures taken by the roaming ship photographers. Several small conference rooms host card games and small group meetings. The future cruise desk that used to be near here has been moved to Deck 10, at Explorations Central.

Deck 3 also contains the shopping arcade, which has the clothing, liquor, cosmetics, and jewelry and watch boutiques. A separate Marbella store sells high-end jewelry.

The ship's art gallery, which holds auctions and "guess the price" contests, is on Deck 2.

Zuiderdam has a small computer lounge on Deck 1. Wi-Fi packages are offered in three tiers: social, with which you can access social media sites ($14.99 per day); surf, with which you can email, news and browse the web ($24.99 per day) and premium, with which you can stream ($29.99 per day). We found that the speed of the connection varied by day and location on the ship; the area near the casino was a total dead zone, for example.

Laundry and dry cleaning services are available onboard for a fee; there are no self-service facilities.

The medical center on Deck A is open daily from 8 a.m. to noon and 2 to 6 p.m.; a fee applies.

Dining

Overall, while cuisine on Zuiderdam is about average, we appreciated that large sections of the Lido Buffet were open all day, allowing you to grab a variety of snacks at any time. Of particular note is Dive-In at the Terrace Grill, Holland America's poolside window serving made-to-order hot dogs, burgers and fries. And, the Pinnacle Grill, an extra-fee venue that serves steaks and Pacific Northwest-inspired fare, is a delicious stalwart; if you're going to pay extra for any meal, make it in this venue.

Allergens are not marked on menus in any of the restaurants; if you have dietary restrictions, you should let the line know ahead of time or consult with the dining room manager when you first get on the ship.

Free Dining

Vista Dining Room (Decks 2 and 3): While Zuiderdam's main dining room has large windows in both the upper and lower sections, the rooms are separated by a ceiling (rather than the upper level looking down onto the lower level). This layout makes conversation easier as voices don't carry as far -- although you don't get that grand effect that's common to other MDRs.

Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 9 a.m. The menu has the usual eggs, waffles and hot cereal available to order, along with a variety of benedicts, omelets and special scrambles. Lunch is served between noon and 1 p.m., but only on certain days; check the daily program. A full three-course meal, with appetizer, entree and dessert, is available if you want it; a typical lunch menu includes Thai curry chicken salad, hot and sour shrimp soup, baked macaroni and cheese or French dip as an entree. There's also a two-course "Express Option" if you'd like to get in and out quickly.

An afternoon tea is served on the upper level from 3 to 4 p.m. and is popular with Zuiderdam's international passengers. The line did away with themed teas, but the current spread has cakes, sandwiches and sweets.

Holland America has two styles of dining for dinner: traditional set tables at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the upper section of the dining room and open dining between 5:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. downstairs. The menus, developed by the line's Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, often draw dishes from the line's "culinary council" of famous chefs such as David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner and Ethan Stowell. Dishes from these featured chefs rotate every night and are starred on the menu.

A typical dinner menu includes shrimp cocktail and duck pate on brioche for appetizers; Caribbean fish chowder, and salad of arugula and frisee for second course; and cracked pepper tenderloin with grilled shrimp, oven-roasted rack of lamb and maple-lacquered duck breast as entrees. Desserts might include chocolate souffle, tiramisu, New York cheesecake or a no-sugar Black Forest cake.

For picky eaters, several Signature dishes are available every night, including French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled salmon, chicken breast and strip steak.

At least one vegetarian entree is offered at dinner. In addition, a complete menu with 22 vegetarian and vegan items is available on request; passengers are advised to order items the night before.

Lido Restaurant (Deck 9): Zuiderdam's buffet is a typical cruise ship spread that offers plenty of choices, most hours of the day. It can be chaotic during prime hours, making it hard to find a seat, and lines do form at the more popular stations. To keep waste down and prevent the spread of illness, servers dish up most the items for you.

Continental breakfast is served from 6 to 10:30 a.m. Here you'll find fruit, muffins and pastries as well as some cheeses. The full breakfast is available from 7 to 10 a.m. (although this can be earlier on port days) and carries the usual variety of omelets, smoked salmon, breakfast meats, cereals, yogurt and fruit. We were particularly impressed with the daily frittatas.

Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Choices include hot entrees such as baked chicken, Asian and Indian specialties (including sushi), pasta and a rather doughy (yet still tasty) pizza, plus a made-to-order salad bar. The deli counter, with grab-and-go sandwiches, is open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Lido serves casual dinner from 5:30 to 8 p.m.; usually some of the same options from the main dining room are available. Sample menu items include appetizers like fruit ceviche or eggplant caponata; two types of soup; the 12-premade salad bar; entrees such as crab pad Thai, Caribbean jerk chicken, New York strip loin steak or curried vegetables. A range of desserts is available, including Key lime pie, create-your-own sundaes, a sugar-free dessert, and cheese and crackers.

If you're looking for a late-night snack, Lido has a good variety of choices, including pizza, pasta, Asian dishes, sandwiches and sweets available from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. Regular ice cream, in either a waffle or sugar cone, is available all day.

Terrace Grill (Lido poolside): Zuiderdam's poolside venue features made-to-order burgers (beef, chicken and veggie), hot dogs and fries. It's a delicious option that tastes fresher than the usual Lido fare. More importantly, our fries stayed perfectly crispy, even with the addition of "secret sauce" (a spicy remoulade). There's also a Mexican buffet set up in this area. Open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Explorations Cafe (Deck 10): Attached to the computer lounge and the library, Explorations Cafe has complimentary snacks and pastries; specialty coffee drinks will run you extra. Open 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours, with no fee. A full breakfast menu with standard choices, including eggs, omelets, cereal and meats, can be ordered the night before, up until 2 a.m. (ours came exactly within the time requested). From 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., the menu includes smoked salmon, French onion soup, salads, seared salmon, penne pasta, a variety of sandwiches and desserts. A kids' menu with favorites like mac 'n' cheese, hot dogs and chicken nuggets, is available from 5:30  to 9:30 p.m.

A limited menu is available any time of day, which includes a club sandwich, fruit salad, cheese plate and chocolate chip cookies. For passengers who feel seasick, the staff will deliver beef broth, broiled chicken breast, green apples, crackers and hot tea.

Fee Dining

Pinnacle Grill (Deck 2); $10 per person for lunch, $35 per person for dinner: Zuiderdam's signature restaurant, Pinnacle Grill, is inspired by the Pacific Northwest. The room makes a nice special occasion dinner, with beautiful Bvlgari plates and gorgeous furnishings. It's also a great spot for a fancy lunch on sea days. You can't go wrong with a steak here; we also enjoyed the lobster bisque, the cedar-planked halibut with shrimp scampi and perhaps the most delicious roasted vegetables that we've had at sea. Leave room for the deconstructed baked Alaska featuring Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.

The wine list in the Pinnacle Grill also deserves a special shout-out. Holland America Group CEO Stein Kruse is very active in the Pacific Northwest wine scene, and the list reflects it, with an emphasis on Washington State vintages (that have some reasonable prices, too). With several by-the-glass selections as well as bottles available, the list offers a good way to try the wines of this region if you haven't done so before.

All in all, Pinnacle Grill gives you some of the best value for your specialty restaurant dollars onboard; we've never had anything that wasn't good here. Open for lunch, noon to 1 p.m.; and dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Canaletto (Deck 9); $15 per person: Carved out of the Lido buffet, Canaletto is the ship's Italian venue. Appetizers such as eggplant caponata pasta, and entrees such as veal piccata and roast pork saltimbocca, are served in a white tablecloth setting. Items are meant to be shared, with a recommendation of two starters, one pasta and one entree per two people. We found the fare here underwhelming and pasta strangely not as good as what we had for free at the buffet. Open for dinner, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Rudi's Sel de Mer (Deck 2); $49 per person: Offered once during a cruise of less than 10 nights and twice on longer itineraries, the Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant turns the Pinnacle Grill into a French seafood brasserie. Designed by Holland America's Master Chef and culinary consultant, Rudi Sodamin, the restaurant features special "Food Faces" plates with designs taken from some of Sodamin's whimsical culinary photography.

The Sel de Mer menu for the pop-up mimics what you'd find in the standalone restaurant on Koningsdam. It's fairly extensive and heavy on fish and shellfish, although other meats are available and there are limited choices for vegetarians. At our meal, we found the standouts to be Rudi's seafood tower (small portions of lump crab, North Sea shrimp and octopus served in a clever series of stackable bowls), the broiled Maine lobster and Rudi's souffle (there was also a goat cheese souffle entree that we saw floating by that looked quite good). We appreciated the array of tapenades served with a baguette before the meal and the chocolate dipped strawberries and truffles, arranged on a clever presentation "tree," that came after dinner. It's all a lot of food so come hungry. (Plus, we found Rudi's chocolate truffles in our room when we got back.)

Sel de Mer also has a special cocktail and drinks menu (although you can still order off the Pinnacle Grill wine list if you'd prefer). French wines by the glass are featured, as is Rudi's "featured cocktail," a Vesper martini made with gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc. Liqueurs and cognacs are also on the drink menu. Reservations recommended. Dinner is served 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Room Service: You can order Dive-In burgers around the clock for a $4.95 fee per item. Steaks ($15) and lobster tails ($20) can be ordered from the Pinnacle Grill to your room between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.