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Zuiderdam Review

Zuiderdam - Greenhouse Spa Zuiderdam - Penthouse Suite Zuiderdam - Zuiderdam Art Zuiderdam - Zuiderdam Aft Pool
74% of cruisers loved it
699 reviews | Write a Review
  • Pro: Compact-size indoor pool (with polar bear!) perfect for iffy weather
  • Con: Limited entertainment for itineraries with lots of sea days
  • Bottom line: A great choice for a port-heavy sailing, particularly in colder climates
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Zuiderdam Overview

By Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
Editor Rating

Editor's Note: Beginning December 2015, the automatic tip for passengers staying in interior, oceanview and verandah cabins will be $12.50 (up from $11.50) per person per day. Passengers in suites will be charged $13.50 (up from $12) per person per day.

There's nothing wrong with a classic. And in an era where cruise lines keep adding a dizzying array of features (Skydiving! Bumper cars! Zip lines!), Holland America's Zuiderdam maintains the line's reputation for offering a satisfying and enjoyable, although not particularly surprising, experience at sea.

When Zuiderdam came out in 2002 as the first ship in the Vista class, HAL loyalists cringed at the bright colors and "gaudy" decor; 12 years later, it's hard to see what the fuss was about. The ship does feel a tad dated -- while the three-story atrium is anchored by a gorgeous Waterford seahorse chandelier, the space feels cramped and closed compared to newer vessels. We also noticed some places where the ship seemed worn (although this will be addressed when Zuiderdam goes into dry dock in April 2015).

And we'd never say that Zuiderdam is stuck in time. When HAL does add new features to the ship, such as its successful Dancing with the Stars at Sea program or its fabulous Dive In at the Terrace Grill burger shack, the result is excellent. We're sorry that we missed the B.B. King Blues Club, which returns to the ship in December 2014.

HAL passengers are slow to embrace change, we're told, and thus Zuiderdam contains the line's popular touchstones. The HALCats, Holland America's house band, draw a crowd wherever they play, the signature Pinnacle Grill is usually booked full for dinner and an Indonesian tea is held at least once a cruise. Normally, as we traverse a cruise ship, we hear our share of muttered complaints; on our Alaskan voyage, these grumblings seemed entirely absent.

That's probably because HAL excels on familiar itineraries, particularly when it comes to logistics. For example, our time on the ship was part of an Alaskan cruisetour, 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. While we noticed that wait and bar staff weren't always as friendly, the cruise ship staff clearly have their act together for such an operation to run so smoothly. And it's that consistency that makes a cruise on Zuiderdam a fail-safe proposition.

Zuiderdam Fellow Passengers

HAL has a reputation for attracting a more mature crowd, and our cruise on Zuiderdam confirmed this. On Zuiderdam on a late August Alaska cruise, the bulk of the 2,022 passengers were ages 51 to 74; there were 174 children under the age of 17. During longer cruises through the Panama Canal and Caribbean, the number of children drops to less than a dozen. The number of passengers who are repeat HAL customers also increases on these trips.

HAL draws a fair number of international passengers. On our cruise, Canadians outnumbered Americans, and there were sizable numbers of Australian, Chinese and British passengers. From within the U.S., most people we met seemed to be from the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and the South; there were few East Coasters, a trend that that is typical across the line.

Zuiderdam Dress Code

Zuiderdam is a fairly casual ship, particularly during the day. Most evenings, the dress code is smart casual in all dining venues, with men wearing casual shirts and women wearing pants and sweaters. Formal nights are held twice on a seven-night cruise; we saw only a handful of gowns and tuxedos, with most passengers opting for cocktail dresses (women) and a sport coat (men). During longer voyages, passengers tend to dress more formally.

Zuiderdam Gratuity

Holland America Line automatically adds $11.50 per person, per day, to onboard accounts for passengers in standard staterooms ($12 for people in suites). The tip is then shared among waiters, stewards and other service personnel. That amount can be adjusted in either direction by visiting the front desk. A 15 percent gratuity is tacked on to bar and spa bills.

Next: Zuiderdam Cabins
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Zuiderdam Member Reviews

Wonderful Experience Jakebigwhitedog
My wife and I have cruised many times and this itinerary was the second time for my wife. Everything about this cruise was wonderfu, from start to finish. Food: We had early seating door dinner in the Vista dining and joined a table for six. We ... Read more
We cruised with another couple on Holland America for the first time this past September. We had read that the Zuiderdam had had a major face life last spring, but it must have been for the public areas, not the staterooms. The staterooms appear to ... Read more
Wonderful Mahtomedi
First time with Holland America, although my 7th cruise. Had a Signature Suite for 3 of us. Plenty of room and closet space. Embarcation was easy. Room steward was great. I requested ice one day and for the rest of the trip had ice in the ... Read more
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Zuiderdam Ratings

Editor Rating 3.5 Member Rating
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Spa & Fitness
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