Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 400 out of 500
Accommodation: 151 out of 200
Food: 261 out of 400
Service: 268 out of 400
Entertainment: 71 out of 100
Cruise: 280 out of 400
Overall Score: 1431 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9221279
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $400 million
Entered Service: Dec 2002
Registry: The Netherlands
Length (ft/m): 935.0/285.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 25.5/7.8
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (35,240kW)/2 azimuthing pods
Passenger Decks: 11
Total Crew: 800
Passengers (lower beds): 1,848
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 44.5
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3
Cabins (total): 924
Size Range (sq ft/m): 185.0-1,318.6/17.1-122.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 623
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 28
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2 (1 w/ sliding glass dome)
Hot Tubs (on deck): 5
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/170
Onboard currency: US$
Dutch heritage and decor aboard this family-friendly ship
Overview. This ship is designed to appeal to young, vibrant, family-oriented passengers, with a good array of public rooms, bars and lounges.
The Ship. Zuiderdam is a sister ship to Eurodam, Noordam, Oosterdam, and Westerdam, and shares a common platform and hull shape. There are two funnels, placed close together, one in front of the other, and not side by side as aboard the smaller Amsterdam and Rotterdam. This placement is because the ship has two engine rooms - one with three diesels, and one with two diesels and a gas turbine. Pod propulsion is provided, powered by a diesel-electric system, so there’s almost no discernible vibration.
Several glass elevators provide fine ocean views. There are two centrally located swimming pools outdoors, and one of the pools can be used in inclement weather conditions due to its retractable glass-domed cover. Two whirlpool tubs, adjacent to the swimming pools, are abridged by a bar, while another, smaller pool is provided just for children.
The lobby space is small, and spans just three decks. It has a stairway, and the lobby’s focal point is a large, 10ft (3m) -high transparent seahorse. The decor is extremely bright for a Holland America Line ship, with an eclectic color and pattern mix that assails you from all directions.
There are two entertainment/public room decks, the upper of which has an exterior promenade deck - something new for this traditional cruise line. Although it doesn’t go around the whole ship, it’s long enough for walking. There is also a jogging track outdoors.
The most dramatic public room is the Vista Lounge, which spans three decks in the forward section of the ship. The casino is equipped with all the gaming paraphernalia and slot machines you can think of, and is so large that you have to walk through it to get from the restaurant to the showlounge.
An Explorations Café was added to the Crow’s Nest. This multi-function ‘lifestyle’ area encompasses the ship’s library, a lounge area with fine ocean views, and a coffee shop - it is perhaps the most popular room during the daytime.
Niggles include the fact that many of the ‘private’ balconies aren’t so private, and can be overlooked from various public locations. Also, some pillars obstruct the passenger flow and lines of sight on the main public decks. It can sometimes be difficult to escape from smokers, and those walking around in unsuitable clothing, clutching plastic sport drinks bottles.
Families. Children have KidZone, an indoor/outdoor facility, and Club HAL for ages 5-12, with a number of dedicated youth counselors and activity programs. Teenagers get to use WaveRunner, which includes a dance floor, special lighting effects, and a booming sound system. There’s also a video games room, and big-screen television for movies.
Accommodation. There are numerous accommodation price grades. The price you pay depends on the size, location, and grade you choose.
Penthouse Verandah Suites. The largest accommodation (1,318 sq ft/123 sq m, including balcony) is in these two suites. These have a separate bedroom with a king-size bed; there’s also a walk-in closet, dressing room, living room, dining room, butler’s pantry, minibar and refrigerator, and private balcony. The main bathroom has a large whirlpool tub, two washbasins, toilet, and plenty of storage space for toiletries. Personalized stationery and complimentary dry cleaning are included, as are hot hors d’oeuvres and other goodies daily.
Deluxe Verandah Suites. Measuring 563 sq ft (52 sq m), these have twin beds that convert to a king-size bed, vanity desk, lounge area, walk-in closet, minibar and refrigerator, and bathroom with full-size tub, washbasin, and toilet. Personalized stationery and complimentary dry cleaning are included, as are hot hors d’oeuvres daily and other goodies.
Verandah Suites. These are really cabins and not suites, and measure 284 sq ft (26 sq m). Twin beds can convert to a queen-size bed. There is also a lounge area, minibar and refrigerator; the bathroom has a tub, washbasin and toilet. Floor-to-ceiling windows open onto a private balcony.
Outside-view cabins. Standard outside cabins, measuring 197 sq ft (18 sq m), have twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed. There’s a small sitting area, while the bathroom has a tub/shower combination. Interior (no-view) cabins are slightly smaller, at 183 sq ft (17 sq m).
A number of cabins on the lowest accommodation deck, Main Deck, have views obstructed by lifeboats. Some cabins that can accommodate a third and fourth person have very little closet space, and there’s only one personal safe. There is no separate radio in each cabin - instead, audio channels are provided on the in-cabin TV system.
Each morning, an eight-page New York Times (Times Fax) is provided for each cabin. Fresh fruit is available on request. Shoe shine service and evening turndown service are also provided, as is a small range of toiletries.
Dining. The 1,045-seat Vista Dining Room is aft. It spans two decks, and is a charming room, with seating on both main and balcony levels. Both open seating (you may have to wait a considerable time for a table), and fixed (assigned tables and times) seating are available; you’ll be seated by restaurant staff when you enter. A traditional dining experience is provided, with friendly service from Indonesian and Filipino stewards, who access the galley - it’s underneath the restaurant - by escalators.
Breakfast and lunch are an open-seating arrangement, so you’ll be seated by restaurant staff. Tables are for two, four, six, or eight. The waiter stations can be noisy if you are seated adjacent to them. Live music is provided for dinner. Once each cruise, there’s a Dutch Dinner (hats are provided), and an Indonesian Lunch. ‘Lighter option’ meals are always available for the nutrition-conscious and the weight-conscious. Holland America Line can provide Kosher meals, although these are prepared ashore, frozen, and brought to your table sealed in their original containers.
Other dining options. A 130-seat Pinnacle Grill is a more upscale dining spot with higher-quality ingredients cooked to order. Located on Lower Promenade Deck, it fronts onto the second level of the atrium lobby. The cuisine is Pacific Northwest, plus premium quality steaks from hand-selected cuts of beef. The wine bar offers mostly American wines. Reservations are needed and there’s a cover charge (but the steaks are worth it).
For more casual eating, there’s an extensive Lido Café. It includes a pizzeria/Italian specialties counter, a salad bar, Asian stir-fry counter, deli sandwiches, and a separate dessert buffet. Movement through the buffet area can be very slow, particularly at peak times. In the evenings, one side of this venue is turned into an extra-cost, 72-seat Canaletto Restaurant - a quasi-Italian informal eatery with waiter service.
Also, a poolside ‘Dive-In at the Terrace Grill’ features multi-choice signature burgers (with special Dive-In sauce), hot dogs and fries, and, on certain days, barbecues and other culinary treats may be featured.
The Windsurf Café in the atrium lobby (open 20 hours a day) serves extra-cost coffees, pastries, snack foods, deli sandwiches, and, in the evenings, liqueur coffees.
Entertainment. The 867-seat Vista Lounge is the principal venue for Las Vegas-style revue shows and major cabaret presentations. It spans three decks in the forward section, and the main floor level has a bar in its starboard aft section. Spiral stairways at the back of the lounge connect all levels. Stage shows are best seen from the upper levels, from where the sight lines are quite good.
Spa/Fitness. The Greenhouse Spa is a large, two-decks-high health spa area, located directly above the navigation bridge at the front of the ship. Facilities include a solarium, and an extra-cost thermal suite - a unisex area incorporating a Laconium, Hammam, and Chamomile Grotto, while a Hydropool allows you to swim against a currant. There’s also a beauty parlor, 11 private body treatment/massage and therapy rooms, including one for couples. A large gymnasium with floor-to-ceiling windows has the latest equipment.