Overall, while cuisine on Zuiderdam is about average, we appreciated that large sections of the Lido were open all day, allowing you to grab a variety of snacks at any time. Of particular note is Dive In at the Terrace Grill, HAL's poolside window serving made-to-order hot dogs, burgers and fries; we found the food here to be superior to the rest of the buffet. Other culinary standouts during our cruise were the lobster salad and Chateaubriand served during Le Cirque night in the Pinnacle Grill.
Vista Dining Room (Decks 2 and 3, aft): While Zuiderdam's main dining room has large windows in both the upper and lower sections, the rooms are separated by a ceiling (rather than the upper level looking down onto the lower level). This layout makes conversation easier as voices don't carry as far -- although you don't get that grand effect that's common to other MDRs.
Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. The menu is fairly standard, with eggs, waffles and hot cereal available to order. Lunch is served only on certain days; check the program for hours. A full four-course meal, with appetizer, soup/salad, entree and dessert, is available if you want it; a typical lunch menu includes Thai curry chicken salad, hot and sour shrimp soup, baked macaroni and cheese or French dip as an entree.
An afternoon tea is served on the upper level from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and is popular with Zuiderdam's international passengers. Holland America actually has several styles of tea: Indonesian, Royal Dutch and Cupcake, where several flavors of tiny cakes are served.
HAL has two styles of dining for dinner, traditional set tables at 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. in the upper section of the dining room and As You Wish dining between 5:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. downstairs. The menus, developed by HAL's Chef Rudi Sodamin, often draw dishes from the line's "culinary council" of famous chefs such as David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner and Charlie Trotter.
A typical dinner menu includes shrimp cocktail and duck pate on brioche for appetizers, Caribbean fish chowder, and salad of arugula and frisee for second course, and cracked pepper tenderloin with grilled shrimp, oven-roasted rack of lamb and maple-lacquered duck breast as entrees. Desserts include chocolate souffle, tiramisu, New York cheesecake or a no-sugar Black Forest cake.
For picky eaters, several dishes are available every night, including French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled salmon, chicken breast and strip steak.
At least one vegetarian entree is offered at dinner. In addition, a complete menu with 22 vegetarian and vegan items is available on request; passengers are advised to order items the night before.
Lido Restaurant (Deck 9, midship): Zuiderdam's buffet is a typical cruise ship spread that offers plenty of choices, most hours of the day. It can be chaotic during prime hours, and lines do form at the more popular stations.
Continental breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Here you'll find fruit, muffins and pastries as well as some cheeses. The full breakfast is available from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and carries the usual variety of omelets, smoked salmon, breakfast meats, cereals, yogurt and fruit.
Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Choices include hot entrees such as baked chicken, a salad bar, Asian and Indian specialties (including sushi), pasta and a rather doughy pizza. The deli counter, with grab-and-go sandwiches, is open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Lido serves casual dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; usually some of the same options from the main dining room are available. Sample menus include appetizers like fruit ceviche or eggplant caponata; two types of soup; the 12-salad bar; entrees such as crab pad Thai, Caribbean jerk chicken, New York strip loin steak or curried vegetables. A range of desserts is available, including key lime pie, create-your-own sundaes, a sugar-free dessert, and cheese and crackers.
If you're looking for a late-night snack, Lido has a good variety of choices, including pizza, pasta, Asian dishes, sandwiches and sweets available from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Dive In at the Terrace Grill (Lido poolside, midship): Zuiderdam's newest addition features made-to-order burgers, hot dogs and fries. It's a delicious option that tastes fresher than the usual Lido fare. More importantly, our fries stayed perfectly crispy, even with the addition of "secret sauce" (a spicy remoulade). There's also a Mexican buffet set up in this area. Open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Explorations Cafe (Deck 10, forward): Attached to the computer lounge and the library, Explorations Cafe has complimentary snacks and pastries; specialty coffee drinks will run you extra. Open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours, with no fee. A full breakfast menu with standard choices, including eggs, omelets, cereal and meats, can be ordered the night before, up until 2 a.m. (ours came exactly within the time requested). From noon until 10 p.m., the menu includes smoked salmon, French onion soup, salads, seared salmon, penne pasta, a variety of sandwiches and desserts.
A limited menu is available any time, which includes a club sandwich, fruit salad, cheese plate and chocolate chip cookies. For passengers who feel seasick, the staff will deliver beef broth, broiled chicken breast, green apples,crackers and hot tea.
Canaletto (Deck 9, midship); $15 per person: Carved out of the Lido buffet, Canaletto is the ship's Italian venue. Appetizers such as eggplant caponata pasta, and entrees such as veal piccata and roast pork saltimbocca, are served in a white tablecloth setting. We found the fare here underwhelming. Open for dinner, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Pinnacle Grill (Deck 2, midship); $10 per person for lunch, $35 per person for dinner: Zuiderdam's signature restaurant, Pinnacle Grill, is inspired by the Pacific Northwest. The room makes a nice special occasion dinner, with beautiful Bvlgari plates and gorgeous furnishings. You can't go wrong with a steak here; we also enjoyed the lobster bisque, the cedar-planked halibut with shrimp scampi and perhaps the most delicious roasted vegetables that we've had at sea. Open for lunch, noon to 1 p.m.; and dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Le Cirque at the Pinnacle Grill (Deck 2, midship); $49 per person ($89 with wine pairings): Offered once during the cruise, the Le Cirque dinner features classic menu items from Sirio Maccioni's famed New York restaurant. For the meal, the Pinnacle Grill exchanges its usual dishes for Le Cirque's signature orange monkey plates -- a nice whimsical touch. Some of the flavors here were genuinely surprising -- who knew that foie gras mousse would taste good with rhubarb or that huckleberries would add a delicious edge to butternut squash soup? The Chateaubriand is a standout, as is the lobster salad and chocolate souffle. Reservations recommended. Dinner is served 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.