The Vista Dining Room is Zuiderdam's two-deck main dining venue, offering open seating for breakfast and lunch, and two options for dinner: traditional, set tables and times (fixed dining) on the upper level or As You Wish (flexible dining) on the lower level. As You Wish guests are able to make reservations up until 4 p.m. each day for specific time slots (5:30, 5:45, 6, 8, 8:30, 9) or walk in anytime between 5:30 and 9:30 to request availability.
Though we opted for fixed dining, fellow passengers on this particular sailing shared positive feedback about the As You Wish program. One couple reported not having to wait once to be seated, even though they showed up at different times each night without reservations. It's a wonderful way to meet new people because you aren't tied to the same tablemates nightly. On the flip side, dining this way means having different servers every night, and for many cruisers, having a close rapport with a particular waiter or team is important.
Zuiderdam's alternative restaurant is the Pinnacle Grill, open for lunch most sea days at a charge of $10 per person or for dinner for $20 per person; reservations are required. The cuisine is Pacific Northwestern, with an emphasis on steaks. A new menu has debuted on the ship, but the overall concept remains the same -- cheeses, fruits and meats from the Northwest region. Standouts from my visit include a flavorful filet, available in two sizes, 7 and 10 ounces. (Go for the 10 -- you're on vacation!) The restaurant's Chocolate Volcano Cake, a warm and decadent dessert with a gooey center, was worth the cover charge. The wine list includes selections from Washington and Oregon.
Dinner was superb, both in the quality of selections and in service, but a lunchtime visit was slower, and I felt it didn't offer the same value-for-money as supper.
The ship's casual eatery is the Lido Restaurant, which is set up in a somewhat traditional cafeteria fashion -- though there are distinct stations (Italian, deli, bistro fare), they are lined up port and starboard, rather than scattered about, which results in some queuing at peak times.
At breakfast, you'll find scrambled eggs, pancakes or French toast, breakfast meats, cereals, pastries, breads and fruit, along with a station for made-to-order eggs, omelets and even eggs Benedict. Midday, the fare available is almost identical on either side, with one or two differences: For example, at lunch both sides featured the same hot dishes, ice cream and sandwich options, but the Asian station -- frankly, one of the best bets here, with flavorful daily selections and a choose-your-own stir-fry option -- was solely on the port side. Salad fixings and beverages (water, iced tea and juice) can be found in a central walkway between port and starboard.
The Lido is also open nightly for those who opt for a casual dinner, though there was nothing extraordinary about taking supper there. Aside from the Italian station, which always serves pasta and pizza, entrees often matched what was being served in the main dining room, but there were no tableside services, tablecloths or special place settings.
At the midship pool, the Terrace Grill serves up lunchtime burgers, hot dogs, wursts, grilled chicken and vegetarian burgers with fries and crisp onion rings; check out the toppings bar for other options, as well, including taco shells and fillings, and tortilla chips for making your own heaping plate of nachos.
Room service is available 24 hours a day. Breakfast can be ordered by placing a completed hanging card on your doorknob by 2 a.m. It goes beyond the Continental breakfast of muffins and jams to include omelets or scrambled eggs (Egg Beaters available), sausage and more. Otherwise, there are two menus from which you can order in-room meals. A round-the-clock menu features standard fare (hamburgers, triple-decker clubs), and a larger menu, including those items and more (tuna melts, penne primavera), is offered from noon until 10 p.m.
Dishes always arrived when promised and at the right temperature, and I'd suggest this option over the Lido for a night away from the crowds. The vegetarian wrap with a creamy, rich Thai-inspired coconut sauce was particularly memorable.
While there were no truly bum meals in the Vista Dining Room, like most lines, Holland America does a better job in some areas than in others. Ample portions of well-seasoned beef and lamb were always brought out at the temperature requested, and creative takes on fish had a prominent place on the nightly roster. Pasta, on the other hand, was consistently dry. (I learned to ask for extra sauce on the side.) Generally, we found service to be excellent in the main dining room and sporadic in areas like the Lido Buffet. (Purchasing a Diet Coke or asking for a refill on your coffee might prove difficult, though someone always seemed available to clear away trays and prep the table for the next passenger.)