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, or a comedian. We found the entertainment about average for a cruise ship.
During the day, Zuiderdam has the usual range of cruise ship activities, including trivia, bingo, art auctions, wine tastings, mixology sessions and port presentations. Certain events carry an extra fee.
Holland America has a partnership with Food + Wine, and Culinary Arts cooking demonstrations, recipe exchanges and tasting events are held most days in the Queens Lounge/Culinary Arts Center on Deck 3.
Holland America's Dancing with the Stars at Sea program imbues the typical cruise ship dance lessons with a competitive twist. After learning the waltz, the cha cha or the jive, the top passengers have a dance-off to compete in a performance on the last night. The "champion" on that final night is eligible to be selected to win a free spot on Holland America's Dancing with the Stars Champions cruise, where judges and celebrities from the show take part. It's all good fun; on our sailing, the dance floor was packed with wannabe dancers.
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 served to passengers viewing glaciers on the outer decks in Glacier Bay.
A small Screening Room on Deck 3 shows second-run movies five times a day.
The Culinary Arts Center on Deck 3 also doubles as the Queens Lounge, with a stage that's used for the HALCats, the ship's house band that plays contemporary and classic rock covers, as well as comedians. In late 2014, this space will be used for the B.B. King Blues Club.
The Casino, a smoking venue, anchors the ship's busiest entertainment area on Deck 2. 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. Your $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
Holland America doesn't have a reputation as a party line, and so most of Zuiderdam's lounges are conducive for drinks and quiet conversation (the raucous pub crawl being the exception, not the rule). Overall, we found nightlife centers around the venues circling the casino, such as the Piano Bar and Northern Lights; most other places were dead unless music was playing. It's a pretty quiet ship after midnight.
Atrium Bar (Deck 1, midship): With limited hours, this bar is primarily known for its martinis. (Open 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.)
Piano Bar (Deck 2, midship): This classic piano venue tends to be the lounge drawing the biggest crowds, and it also stays open the latest. Expect the typical mix of standards and sing-alongs, in a cozy setting (although you do smell some smoke from the casino next door). (Open 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. or later.)
Queens Lounge (Deck 2, midship): Attached to the Culinary Arts Center, the Queens Lounge bar is open when the HALCats play or a comedian is doing a routine. Starting in December 2014, this space will again be used for the B.B. King Blues Club five nights a week. (Hours vary.)
Pinnacle Bar (Deck 2, midship): Across the atrium from the Pinnacle Grill, this bar is a quiet spot for pre-dinner drinks. (Open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
Explorer's Lounge (Deck 2, midship): Decorated with maps and globes, this bar is home to art events, classical music performances and chocolate tastings. (Open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
Sports Bar (Deck 2, midship): Just off the casino, the Sports Bar has several TVs that are turned to different sports events. It's generally not crowded. (Open 10 a.m. to late, sea days; 5 p.m. to late on port days.)
Northern Lights (Deck 2, midship): The ship's disco is positioned off the casino. With two rooms -- one for the bar, one for a good-sized dance floor and nearby banquettes -- it's inviting enough for those who want to get their groove on, as well as those who just want to sit back and watch. (Open 9 p.m. to close.)
Ocean's Bar (Deck 3, midship): Circling the atrium, the Ocean Bar provides perfect people-watching, both for passengers going to dinner and those outside walking the Promenade. It's busiest when the HALCats perform. (Open 10 a.m. to midnight.)
Seaview Bar (Deck 9, aft): Adjacent to the aft pool, the Seaview provides the usual fruity cocktails and mocktails. (Open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Lido Bar (Deck 9, poolside): Another active bar for the pool set. On our cruise, this was the place to find Alaskan Brewing Company beer on tap and in bottles. (Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Crow's Nest (Deck 10, forward): Stretching across the front of the ship, this lounge is one of best places on the ship to get a drink with a view. Extremely popular during sea days, this is also where Cruise Critic Meet and Greets are held. (Open 3 p.m. to close.)
Zuiderdam Outside Recreation
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. Although this area is supposed to be child-free, we saw many kids using the three hot tubs and pool in this area. Light pop songs serve as a soundtrack and there are plenty of lounge chairs.
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.
Besides the pool areas, Zuiderdam has sun decks and loungers around Deck 10 and Deck 11 behind the funnel. There are no adults-only sun decks or private cabanas for rent.
The front desk, future cruise sales and shore excursions desks are located on Deck 1, just off the atrium. The Medical Center on Deck A is open daily from 8 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; a fee applies.
The ship's art gallery, which has the usual auctions and "guess the price" contests, is on Deck 2.
Deck 3 is the ship's main public area. Here you'll find the Photo Gallery, where you can buy pictures from the roaming ship photographers. Several small conference rooms host card games and small group meetings.
Deck 3 also contains the Shopping Arcade, which has the usual clothing, liquor, cosmetics, jewelry and watch boutiques. A separate Marbella store sells high-end jewelry.
Zuiderdam's computer lounge is part of Deck 10's Explorations Cafe, a coffee bar sponsored by the New York Times. It's open 24 hours. Wi-Fi packages cost $24.99 per day, and $149.99 for the length of a seven-day voyage. You can also pay as you go for $0.75/minute.
The Explorations Cafe also houses the ship's library. You'll find a nice variety of best-sellers and classics that you can check out during your cruise, as well as reference books that you can consult within the space. The puzzles here were also popular.
Laundry and dry cleaning services are available onboard for a fee; there are no self-service facilities.