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7 Days Alaska Cruise, Roundtrip from Vancouver aboard Zuiderdam

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7 Day Alaska Cruise, Roundtrip from Vancouver aboard Zuiderdam

Zuiderdam is a departure from Holland America's tradition of building stylish, classical ships. She most resembles a Carnival "Fun Ship" with her glitzy bold colors and overuse of red. We've received complaints about the food and service which the cruise line promises to address. And, while children's programs are available, they don't compare to the comprehensive activities offered by Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line. Dining is in two early and two late seatings, with only the bare minimum offered at night in the Lido Restaurant for those who wish to dine more casually. Holland America still offers few daytime activities for those who like to keep busy, although the gym and fitness programs are very good.

Note that Zuiderdam was fully fitted out for HAL's new "Signature of Excellence" program in Fall 2005. New features include table-side waiter service at dinner in the Lido, a new Culinary Arts Program with show kitchen for demonstrations and classes, expansion of spa and fitness facilities, upgraded Club HAL Kids Centers and the addition of new shore excursions. The Explorations Cafe in cooperation with The New York Times is a combination library, Internet center, music listening area and sidewalk cafe. Staterooms are receiving euro top mattresses, upgraded soft goods, flat screen TV's and DVD players. A number of other enhancements are early boarding, four dining seatings, two early and two late and additional in-cabin TV channels - ESPN, Discovery Channel programming and coverage of onboard events.

While food was good on my pre-inaugural cruise, I've heard many complaints about Zuiderdam's cuisine being tasteless and under seasoned. Holland America is promising us fleetwide upgrades that will include improvements in cuisine.
The two-level Vista Restaurant has spacious seating and good soundproofing with tables for two, four, six, eight and 10. The ship's Lido café, a cafeteria serving breakfast and lunch, becomes a casual dining venue at night serving pizza and pasta. The reservations-only Pinnacle Grill at the Odyssey restaurant is stark white, with twisted aluminum chairs that have the feet and head of a ram. Priced at $20 per person (wine extra), dinner in the Pinnacle Grill is a sumptuous affair in a romantic setting.
Holland America's Indonesian and Filipino crew is warm and gracious although there may be some communication difficulties at times.
Expect two formal nights per week. Roughly 50% of the men opt for dark suit in lieu of tuxedo.

Public Areas:
I've never seen so much red in my life! The red-and-purple carpet on Promenade Deck leads to a cherry red hallway before one ascends in a fire engine red elevator trimmed in brass (you won't need morning coffee!). Throughout the ship, bright primary colors jump out as one encounters a turquoise leather sofa in one lounge, bright yellow and red furniture in another. This ship's atrium is small and most activity takes place on Lower Promenade and Promenade Decks where most of the lounges and shops are located. The three-tier Vista Lounge is the setting of HAL's floorshows and other entertainment. Be sure to plan post-dinner cocktails and dancing in the Crows Nest, an attractive observation lounge on Observation Deck. Additional watering holes include the refined Explorer's Club, a Sports Bar and the Queen's Lounge.
Zuiderdam's cabins are smaller than one normally finds on a Holland America ship but still large enough for a comfortable one week cruise. Standard inside and outside staterooms are 254 sq. ft. Balcony cabins do have a spacious veranda with two chairs and a table. But in standard inside, outside and balcony staterooms, there are a few shelves but no drawers. So, pack light! Standard cabin features include a tub, color TV, mini-fridge and hair dryer. Should you occupy one of Zuiderdam's large suites, you'll also get the use of the private concierge club with coffee and light snacks available throughout the day. The club also has a large TV, comfortable leather seating and board games.
Fitness and Recreation

From the basketball court to the running track, Zuiderdam's sports facilities are extensive enough to satisfy the most active passenger. The ship's gym has a sufficient number of stretching, pulling and walking machines plus exercise classes, although showers curiously lack some basics, such as a hook to hang your towel on. The Greenhouse Spa, operated by Steiners, is pricey-massages start at $110 for 50 minutes-but it has a long list of treatments. There is a sauna/steamroom with varied aroma-therapy options and there is a thalossotherapy room with several powerful water jets for soothing tired muscles. A one-day pass to either of these services is $15. 
Once you're aboard Holland America's Zuiderdam, you're required to unwind and set your inner child free. During your ultimate cruising experience you'll have the opportunity to wander around the decks and submerge yourself in whichever activity your heart desires. Feel free to let your hair down and kick your shoes off and absorb the serene atmosphere.
  • * Beauty Salon
  • * Ocean Spa
  • * 3 Swimming Pools

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