In recent years the Zaandam and Zuiderdam ships have become some of the top choices for Holland America Line for its longer voyages known as Grand and World Voyages. Cruise Specialists had dozens of guests along with Voyage Hosts Keith and Susie Boyland on the 2022 Grand Africa voyage that cruised from Fort Lauderdale around Africa and back on board Zaandam. They spent their days at sea enjoying the warm weather and ceremonial visits from King Neptune by the pool when crossing the equator. The ship carried them in grand style through the Suez Canal, to Jordan (where many visited Petra and Wadi Rum) — and Cruise Specialists guests enjoyed chatting with each other in the lounges and restaurants where they shared many meals together.
Cruise Specialists Voyage Hosts Wendy and Steve Bodenheimer also cruised on board Zaandam for two weeks in June 2022 and shared some of their observations about the ship:
- “Embarkation was super easy for those who did all their paperwork as requested.
- We arrived about 40 minutes before our scheduled time and were able to board in about 20 minutes without a crowd. And our luggage arrived at our cabin the same time we did!
- The ship itself is in fabulous condition. She just came out of dry dock and many things are new- carpeting, upholstery, etc. Even the cushions on the deck chairs look new. She looks and feels like a much newer ship. And for those missing the Amsterdam, they will feel right at home. The layout is almost exactly the same.
- The staff is wonderful as usual. We know the Hotel General Manager, Guest Relations Manager, Shorex Manager, Cruise and Travel Director and Event Manager from previous sailings and they greeted us like family. They are among our favorite people going back to the Prinsendam
- We were impressed by how smooth the tender procedures were.
- There is still a library with a reasonable selection of books and games, still computer terminals and still excellent coffee and pastry at the coffee bar.
- The Crow’s Nest no longer has live music although the dance floor surface is still there. The Ocean Bar has a 5-person band, including a singer, who play all kinds of music every night for three sets. We can be found there, getting in a few dances every evening. There is a popular piano bar entertainer in the Mix lounge, and a Classical Duo in the Explorers Lounge every night.
- Main Stage entertainment has been very good. The One Step Dance Company has done two amazing shows. We’ve also had a comedian and a male quartet called Cantaré who we enjoyed.
- Food and service in the main Dining Room have been very good.
- Dinner at Canaletto was so good, we plan to return twice in our second week. It is still an underappreciated venue. We do love the quiet atmosphere and the great views from every table!
A few things that are different from prior voyages:
- There are no longer Wine Stewards in the Dining Room. All wine and drink orders are handled by the wait staff.
- There have been no port talks or port information distributed on board. Guests should plan to use the Navigator app to gain most information.
Overall, we were very pleased with the experience on board Zaandam.”
In Person on the Zuiderdam
The Bodenheimers also cruised on board Zuiderdam for a 51-day Tales of the South Pacific voyage in fall 2022. Here are some comments about the ship they sent back during the voyage.
- “One of the things we really like is the unique elevators in the middle of the ship. In addition to the regular interior ones, there are 2 sets of glass-enclosed elevators that run up and down outside the ship. They make some people nervous, as it feels like you are floating almost over the water. But they come more quickly that the others, are never crowded, and are a fun experience.
- Beyond the lectures, days at sea are filled with a dazzling array of activities. They are still teaching the hula and ukulele. Trivia is played several times a day and has a large and devoted following. Bridge players have classes in the mornings and duplicate bridge in the afternoons. Every afternoon is a big screen movie with popcorn or tea service in the dining room with decadent pastries. Anyone for $1,000 Jackpot Bingo or the designer jewelry showcase in the shops? Try pickleball, shuffleboard, cornhole, or even a sunrise stretch at the pool. Do you knit, crochet, or love Mahjong? There’s an informal group get together for you. The casino is open all day as are the Fitness Center and Spa for your workout or massage. The pools and hot tubs are available for a quick dip or leisurely float. There are at least two jigsaw puzzles in progress at any time up in the Crow’s Nest. And did we mention the movie library — lots of new and old movies on demand on your stateroom TV and this isn’t even a Grand Voyage, where there would be even more going on!
- And in the evenings on Zuiderdam, there is a broad variety of music venues: Lincoln Center Stage for the classical fans, Rolling Stone Rock Lounge for the rock and rollers, Billboard Onboard for popular piano sing-alongs and the Ocean Bar for dancing. These are in addition to the Main Stage performances of comedians, solo musicians, singers, dance companies and production shows.”
The Bodenheimers and other guests reported that they struggled with WiFi connectivity throughout this voyage. Our advice is to plan ahead for the bare minimum of internet access you think you will need and consider using WiFi on shore if possible in port from time to time. (Keep in mind that many ports may not have internet access.) Conduct as much important business before you leave home so you do not need to worry about it on board.
Due to their mid-size ship appeal, recent refurbishments that keep the ships feeling luxurious and fresh, and highly experienced staff and crew who excel at catering to the desires of discerning cruisers, Zaandam and Zuiderdam are both excellent choices for a voyage with Holland America Line.
Our cruise consultants are well-versed on both ships and available to answer your questions!
We’ve also put together a comparison of the two ships with more information about ship size, dining and lounges, amenities and more, which you can read below: