For the most part, Noordam serves up fresh, tasty and varied fare. A Culinary Council made up of five high-profile chefs, along with Holland America's master chef, Rudi Sodamin, contribute recipes that are featured most nights in the main dining rooms. Vegetarian options and at least one sugar-free dessert are included on dining room menus.
Still hungry? Late-night snacks are served until 11:30 p.m., and pasta and pizza are dished out until midnight in the Lido Restaurant. Plus, sandwiches and pastries (free with the purchase of specialty coffees and teas and bottled water) are in the Explorations Cafe from early morning until 10 p.m. Two other eateries and the ship's weekly pop-up restaurant, Le Cirque, present even more options for those willing to pay extra for variety.
Vista Dining Room (Decks 2 and 3, aft): The pleasant main dining rooms are connected by a grand staircase and decorated in dusty rose hues. Large windows surrounding the room bring the outside in.
Breakfast, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., consists of made-to-order eggs and waffles, plus the usual cereals and baked goods. Lunch, served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (dining rooms are closed for lunch on some port days), offers starters, mains and desserts. Sample entrees might include stuffed bell pepper, salmon piccata and Swiss steak. A daily "express combo" option caters to those in a hurry.
Afternoon tea is a HAL tradition. It's served in the upper dining room from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily and is so bountiful, it could qualify as a meal. Three themed teas -- Indonesian, Royal Dutch and Cupcake -- are served once during each sailing.
Fixed seatings for dinner are at 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. HAL's As You Wish dining allows open seating (with or without a reservation) from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. Signature dishes available nightly include French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled salmon, broiled strip loin and roasted chicken. Plus, there's at least one vegetarian entree on the menu nightly. A full vegetarian menu, including vegan selections, is also available, but should be ordered the night before.
A typical dinner menu has six to nine appetizer/soup/salad selections, such as deep-fried hazelnut crusted brie and salmon tartare with baby zucchini; eight to 11 entrees, like bucatini with duck and rockfish with garlicky clams; and 10 or so dessert options, such as caramelized pear crepes with vanilla ice cream and sugar-free hazelnut mousse cake.
Wine recommendations are on the menu nightly and include vintages starting at $5.50 a glass.
Explorations Café (Deck 3, midship): Occupying a corner of the ship's popular library/computer lounge, the cafe serves complimentary pastries, sandwiches and mini bagels with the purchase of specialty coffee drinks and Tazo teas. Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Lido Restaurant (Deck 9, midship): The casual-dining buffet restaurant can get hectic during breakfast and lunch, particularly on sea days. Be patient if you want a window seat, and avoid tables near the serving counters. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (earlier on some port days). The fare includes made-to-order eggs (seven varieties!), omelets and waffles and mounds of fruit, cheese and about every breakfast food imaginable.
Lunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features several hot entrees, sushi, plus an Asian and Indian station with spicy noodle dishes and stir-frys. The dessert bar has pastries and hand-scooped ice cream. Deli fare, including pre-made sandwiches, is available from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The pizza/pasta bar operates from 11:30 a.m. to midnight.
Causal dinner with waiter service, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., incorporates a couple of entrees from the dining room menu, among other options, along with multiple appetizers, soups, salads and desserts.
If you're craving a late-night snack, hit the Lido between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. for pizza, pasta and Asian fare.
Dive In at the Terrace Grill (Deck 9, midship): Big, delicious, made-to-order burgers (including portabella) and what must be the best fries on the high seas (crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside and worth every calorie) are served at a walk-up window by the Lido pool. Adjacent is a serve-yourself taco/nachos bar. Open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Room Service: Gratis room service is available round the clock. Super early risers can get a full breakfast delivered before the Lido Restaurant opens (order by 2 a.m.). From noon to 10 p.m., you can get salmon, salads, French onion soup and sandwiches, among other fare. Items are more limited during the wee hours.
Two fee restaurants, Canaletto and Pinnacle Grill, plus Le Cirque, a pop-up eatery offered once per cruise in the Pinnacle Grill, are available to diners who crave something beyond the ship's standard dining.
Pinnacle Grill (Deck 2, midship); $10 for lunch, $29 for dinner: The ship's special-occasion eatery focuses on Northwest-inspired dishes served in a small, elegant space. Appetizers, such as the Dungeness crab cakes, are wonderful. Fellow diners raved about the Washington-raised beef. The overcooked cedar-planked halibut drew fewer accolades. Vegetarians will be happy here ordering from the sides menu, which includes delicious grilled asparagus, wilted spinach and sauteed mushrooms.
Le Cirque at the Pinnacle Grill (Deck 2, midship; $49 per person; $89 with wine pairings): This once-per-cruise pop-up restaurant features menu items from its renowned New York namesake. Expect fresh takes on classic dishes, like rack of lamb, sea bass and chateaubriand. Recommended starts and finishes to this feast: Le Cirque's signature lobster salad and creme brulee. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Reservations are recommended.
Canaletto (Deck 9, midship); $10: A section of the Lido Restaurant goes Italian from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. nightly, serving what we thought was some of the tastiest food onboard. A word of caution: When they say plates are meant to be shared, they mean it. Portions are huge. We particularly enjoyed the potato gnocchi with braised beef short ribs, the grilled sea bass and the pappardelle with shrimp and artichokes.