Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 397 out of 500
Accommodation: 150 out of 200
Food: 260 out of 400
Service: 267 out of 400
Entertainment: 71 out of 100
Cruise: 278 out of 400
Overall Score: 1423 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9156527
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $300 million
Entered Service: May 2000
Registry: The Netherlands
Length (ft/m): 777.5/237.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.8/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 25.5/7.8
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (37,500kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 561
Passengers (lower beds): 1,440
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 42.6
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.5
Cabins (total): 720
Size Range (sq ft/m): 113.0-1,126.3/10.5-104.6
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 197
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 23
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2 (1 w/sliding glass dome)
Hot Tubs (on deck): 2
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/205
Onboard currency: US$
Dutch-style decor for cruisers of a mature age
Overview. Holland America Line’s (HAL’s) Signature of Excellence program provides passengers with more choice. Music memorabilia is scattered throughout the ship, and includes instruments used by such diverse players as the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Bill Clinton. There’s also a huge Dutch pipe organ complete with puppets that move in time with the music.
The Ship. Zaandam’s hull is dark blue, in keeping with all HAL ships. Although similar in size to Rotterdam, this ship has a single funnel, and is a sister ship to Volendam.
It has three principal passenger stairways, which is so much better than two stairways from the viewpoints of safety, accessibility, and passenger flow. A glass-covered pool is located on the Lido Deck between the mast and the funnel.
The interior decor is restrained, with much traditional ocean liner detailing and wood accenting. The design theme of music includes fabrics, posters, and - believe it or not - real instruments. Most of this memorabilia was acquired from the ‘Pop and Guitars’ auction at Christie’s in London in 1997. It includes a Fender Squire Telecaster guitar signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones; a Conn saxophone signed on the mouthpiece by former US president Bill Clinton; an Ariana acoustic guitar signed by David Bowie and Iggy Pop; a Fender Stratocaster guitar signed in silver ink by the members of the rock band Queen; a Bently Les Paul-style guitar signed by artists including Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Keith Richards, and Les Paul. Perhaps the ship should be called Rockerdam.
The Oasis outdoor relaxation areas aft of the funnel include a waterfall and family gathering areas. Explorations is an excellent combination coffee/tea café, Internet connection center, and library. There are children’s and teens’ play areas. Popcorn is provided at the Wajang Theater for moviegoers, and this location incorporates a fully equipped kitchen for HAL’s Culinary Arts program, which involves visiting chefs and interactive cooking and tasting demonstrations. The casino has blackjack, roulette, stud poker, and dice tables, and the requisite rows of slot machines. Adjacent is a sports bar.
The ship’s focal point is a three-deck-high atrium, with the reception desk, shore excursions desk, photo shop, and photo gallery grouped around it. It also houses a real showpiece - a fancy 22ft (6.7m) -high pipe organ with puppets that move with the music. One of the largest such Dutch band organs ever built, it was custom-made for HAL in Hilversum in the Netherlands.
As in Volendam, the Lido Deck swimming pool is located one deck higher than the Statendam-class ships, so that you can have direct access between the aft and midships pools (not so aboard the S-class ships). This provided more space for extra cabins on the Navigation Deck below.
With one whole deck of suites and a dedicated, private concierge lounge, the company has in effect created a two-class ship. The charge to use the washing machines and dryers in the self-service launderette is petty and irritating, particularly for the occupants of suites who pay high prices for their cruises.
Communication in English with many of the staff, particularly in the dining room and buffet areas, can be frustrating. Room service is poor. Standing in line for embarkation, disembarkation, shore tenders, and for self-serve buffet meals is inevitable aboard large ships.
Accommodation. The range is comparable to that found aboard the similarly sized Rotterdam, and there are 17 different categories. There is one Penthouse Suite, 28 suites, and 168 mini-suites, with the rest of the accommodation a mixture of outside-view and interior cabins. There are many more balcony cabins (called ‘mini-suites’) than aboard the slightly smaller Statendam-class ships (Maasdam, Ryndam, Statendam, and Veendam). All passenger hallways now include pleasing artwork.
All standard interior and outside cabins are tastefully furnished, with twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed, though space is tight for walking between beds and vanity unit. There is a decent amount of closet and drawer space, but this will be tight for longer voyages. The fully tiled bathrooms are disappointingly small, particularly for long cruises, and have small shower tubs, utilitarian toiletries cupboards, and exposed under-sink plumbing. There is no detailing to distinguish them from bathrooms aboard the Statendam-class ships.
There are 28 full Verandah Suites on Navigation Deck, and one Penthouse Suite. All suite occupants share a private concierge lounge, called the Neptune Lounge; the concierge handles such things as special dining arrangements, shore excursions, and special requests. Strangely, there are no butlers for these suites, as aboard many other ships with similar facilities.
Each Verandah Suite has a separate bedroom, dressing, and living areas. Suite passengers get personal stationery, complimentary laundry and ironing, cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres and other goodies, as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation. The concierge lounge, with its latticework teak detailing and private library, is accessible only by private key-card.
The ultimate in living space is the Penthouse Suite. It has a separate steward’s entrance, and has a large bedroom with king-size bed, separate living room with baby grand piano, and a dining room, dressing room, walk-in closet, butler’s pantry, private balcony - though the balcony is no larger than the balcony of any of the other suites.
Other facilities include an audio-visual center with television and video player, wet bar with refrigerator, large bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, separate toilet with bidet, and a guest bathroom with toilet and washbasin.
Except for the Penthouse Suite, located forward on the starboard side, the bathrooms in the other suites and mini-suites are a little disappointing - not as spacious or opulent as one might expect. All outside-view suites and cabin bathrooms have a tub/shower while interior cabins have only a shower. The 23 cabins for the mobility-limited are very spacious and have a large roll-in shower enclosure for wheelchair users (some also have a bathtub), and ramped access to the balcony.
Dining. The Rotterdam Dining Room, a grand, traditional room, is spread over two decks, with ocean views on three sides and a grand staircase connecting the upper and lower levels. Both open seating and assigned seating are available, while breakfast and lunch are open seating where you’ll be seated by restaurant staff when you enter. There are tables for two, four, six, or eight.
Live music is provided for dinner each evening; once each cruise, there’s a Dutch Dinner (hats are provided), and an Indonesian Lunch. ‘Lighter option’ meals are available for the nutrition- and weight-conscious. Fine Rosenthal china and cutlery are used, but there are no fish knives.
Other dining options. The Pinnacle Grill features Pacific Northwest cuisine and seats 88. There’s a cover charge and reservations are required, although suite-grade occupants qualify for priority reservations.
The Lido Buffet is a casual, self-serve café for casual breakfasts and luncheons. A poolside grill, Terrace Café, has hamburgers, hot dogs, and other fast-food items. It’s also open for casual dinners on several nights each cruise - in an open-seating arrangement. Tables are set with crisp linens, flatware, and stemware. The set menu includes a choice of four entrées.
Also, a Lido Deck poolside ‘Dive-In at the Terrace Grill’ features signature burgers, hot dogs and fries, and, on certain days, barbecues and other culinary treats may be featured.
Entertainment. The Mondriaan Showlounge, at the forward part of the ship, spans two decks, with banquette seating on both main and upper levels. It is basically a well-designed room, but the ceiling is low and the sight lines from the balcony level are quite poor.
Spa/Fitness. The Greenhouse Spa facilities are quite extensive and include a gymnasium with good muscle-toning equipment, separate saunas and steam rooms for men and women, and several treatment rooms, each with a shower and toilet. Outdoor facilities include basketball and shuffleboard courts, a jogging track, and a full walk-around teakwood promenade deck for strolling.