The Zuiderdam is a mid-sized Holland America Line cruise ship. Launched in 2002, she was the first ship in the cruise line's Vista Class. Her sister vessels are the Oosterdam, Westerdam and Noordam. The names are all inspired by the Dutch words for the four points of a compass ('Zuid' means south, 'Oost' - east, 'West' - west, and 'Noord' - north).
Measuring 936 feet in length and weighing 82,305 tonnes, the Zuiderdam is on the smaller end of the cruise ship spectrum. She can accommodate 1,964 passengers and 817 crew members. Her maximum cruise speed is 24 knots.
The Zuiderdam underwent renovations in 2015. Most of the public rooms received a makeover and several new dining venues and cabins were added. Although the interior decor was given a facelift, much of the ship's original features remain, such as the Waterford Crystal Seahorse that is suspended from the roof in the three-storey atrium. Several other original artworks, including an Andy Warhol painting of Queen Beatrix, can be found throughout the ship, along with delicate antiques and Dutch memorabilia.
The atmosphere on board is elegant and refined without being pretentious. Although there tends to be at least two formal nights per cruise, the dress code the rest of the time is smart casual.
For a medium sized vessel, the Zuiderdam has an impressive array of activities to choose from. Seasoned cruisers will find all of their favourite pastimes, such as trivia games and informative port lectures, as well as a few innovative, new features.
Of particular note is the ship's Dancing with the Stars: At Sea competition, an interactive, fun event that encourages people to learn how to dance. Those that are any good may be selected to strut their stuff in the final on the last night of the cruise.
Other on board activities include bingo, wine tastings, art auctions and enrichment lectures.
The Zuiderdam has struck a perfect balance when it comes to eateries; there are enough venues to ensure there's something to suit everyone's tastes without the choice being overwhelming. Take dinner for example; you can choose to dine in the main dining room, at the buffet or in one of two specialty restaurants.
A lot of the ship's on board entertainment revolves around food. The Culinary Arts Centre in the Queen's Lounge hosts live demonstrations by leading chefs, and an Indonesian Tea is usually held at least once during a cruise. Do also keep an eye out for chocolate tastings in the Explorer's Lounge.
The Zuiderdam spends most of her time exploring the Panama Canal, the Caribbean and the Pacific Coast. Itineraries range from 7 nights to 27 nights. The shore excursions available will depend on your chosen destination, but you can expect a wide range of tours to choose from.
Some examples include a private tour of the Old Town in Nice, France and a rainforest exploration in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. If you require assistance regarding these tours when on board, you will find the Shore Excursions Desk on Deck 1.
Cabins range in size from 151 square feet (interior) to 359 square feet (balcony), with several variations within each category. There are also some oceanview rooms, which measure between 174 and 180 square feet. All cabins are equipped with basic amenities such as a flatscreen television, DVD player, Elemis toiletries and ample storage space.
For more space and better views, there are three categories of suites: Signature Suites, Neptune Suites and Pinnacle Suites. These start at 273 square feet and go right up to an impressive 1,150 square feet. If you stay in the Neptune or Pinnacle category, you will enjoy perks such as exclusive access to the Neptune Lounge, priority seating for dinner and complimentary dry cleaning.
Dining included in your Zuiderdam ticket:
Specialty dining (not included in your fare):
Entertainment on board the Zuiderdam cruise ship
Daytime entertainment is abundant on board the Zuiderdam. From wine tastings and cocktail-making lessons, to port lectures and bingo competitions, there's something to suit all interests. With a library, an internet cafe, several pools and many daytime eateries, there's never a dull moment.
If you choose only one activity, make it a trip to the Culinary Arts Centre. Located in the Queen's Lounge on Deck 3, this area is home to live cooking demonstrations and other food-related activities. This fun and interactive centre is not to be missed!
There are two pools on board the Zuiderdam; the Main Pool and the Lido Pool. The Lido is an adults-only area, while the Main Pool is family friendly.
The Greenhouse Spa & Salon is operated by Steiner. Here you will find a range of treatments, from relaxing massages to manicures. It's the perfect escape for a little bit of pampering. Near the Spa is the Greenhouse Retreat, the ship's Thermal Suite. Relax and unwind in the heated loungers or the hydrotherapy pool.
There are plenty of places to exercise on the Zuiderdam. The Fitness Centre is equipped with cardio machines, free weights, stretching areas and other modern equipment. You can also sign up for group classes, such as yoga, for a small fee. If you'd prefer to exercise outdoors, there are sports courts located on Deck 11, and two decks for walking and jogging; one on Deck 3 and the other on Deck 10.
The bars and lounges on board the Zuiderdam are elegant and welcoming. A great place to start your evening is in the Atrium Bar. This intimate venue specialises in martinis and is only open until 8.30pm, so make sure you pop in before dinner.
The Vista Show Lounge is home to production shows and musical performances, while the Queen's Lounge transforms into the 'B.B. King's Blues Club' by night (by day it is the Culinary Arts Centre). Other popular spots for live entertainment include the Explorer's Lounge, for classical performances, and the Piano Bar. An organised pub crawl attracts younger crowds, as does the Northern Lights Nightclub, the ship's late-night dancing venue.
Club HAL is Holland America Line's organised children's programme, catering for ages 3 through to 12. Located on Deck 10, this facility is open in the mornings, afternoons and evenings, with breaks for lunch and dinner. After 10pm, Club HAL operates a late-night group babysitting service, available for an hourly rate. Your little ones will be well looked after here no matter what the time of day, with several age-appropriate activities to choose from.
The teenagers have a designated area called The Loft, which is also located on Deck 10. This area is kitted out with the latest video games and films. While there are some organised activities, teenagers can pop in and out throughout the day.
Children have to be at least six months old to travel on short cruises, or 12 months for longer trips - it is best to check before you book your Zuiderdam ticket. Diapers, wipes, formula and other staples can be made available on board if you order in advance.
I had previously been on a world cruise 40 years ago and a European river cruise a few years ago so didn't really know what to expect. To my delight we were allocated a "guaranteed" verandah cabin in a superb location near the centre of the ship. Neither the cabin nor the cabin crew could be
faulted and nothing was too much trouble for them. The interior of the Zuiderdam was continuously cleaned throughout our 22 day voyage and in fact we received new verandah furniture during our cruise. We were always willing to share a table at whichever dinner sitting we chose and never waited very long to be seated. We couldn't fault the dinner service or the food. The quality and variety of the food at breakfast and lunch was always of a high standard and we never had cause for complaint. We enjoyed all the shows but because we were on 2 combined cruises some of the entertainment was repeated which we found disappointing. The daily ship bulletins were very helpful and noted any changes to "Happy Hours" etc. Both embarkation and disembarkation were relatively seamless and did not cause undue stress. At all times the crew were helpful and smiling.
Bedroom with 1 king-size bed, oversize whirlpool bath & shower & additional shower stall, living room, dining room, dressing room, private verandah with whirlpool, pantry, 1 sofa bed for 2 persons, microwave, refrigerator, guest toilet, private stereo system, floor-to-ceiling windows. Approximately 1,150 sq. ft. including verandah.