A Caribbean voyage to the Panama Canal On the MS Zuiderdam is an opportunity to take a look at one of Holland America Line’s freshest refurbishings and renovations of one of their popular mid-size ships.
While the Zuiderdam is a Vista class ship carrying up to 1,900 passengers and 788 officers and crew, it is similar in many respects to the 2,137-passenger Signature class MS Eurodam, which I wrote about previously. The most notable difference is one fewer specialty restaurant on the Zuiderdam, the Asian-style Tamarind. Of special note, in my opinion, is that the ship’s Dive In grill by the Lido Pool also has the same world’s greatest crispy French Fries as on the Eurodam. Love those fries, HAL.
Originally launched in 2002, the Zuiderdam has been undergoing substantial interior updating and additions since October of this year. Additional improvements, including refurbished stairways, will continue through March. Exterior refurbishing by ten sailors working discretely onboard is also expected to continue through March. The ship will then transition to the Baltics for five cruises during the coming summer.
Passengers are greeted on the initial day of the cruise by a select crew wearing spiffy new uniforms and caps. Except for the two doormen in the main dining room, these are worn only the first day.
The theme of the renovations on the Zuiderdam is open spaces. This is best exemplified by The Crow’s Nest on the forward Observation Deck 10. The ship’s library is no longer in a separate room, but consists of a large kiosk (above, right) and two smaller book shelves in opposite corners of the space. A panoramic vista from the top of the ship can be viewed from various positions throughout the room while enjoying a drink from the onsite Explorations Café bar.
The list of renovations and refurbished areas of the ship is extensive. Graphically colorful carpeting, such as the sample above from the Mainstage theater, and seating, like the new chairs in the Lido Market above, are prominent. Less obvious are the 102 fully upgraded suites and new chairs and sofas in all staterooms. New signage and elevator boards, as well as 42” flat-screen monitors in staterooms and 50” monitors in suites, have been added throughout the ship.
A most elegant and sophisticated addition to the ship is certainly the Gallery Bar, with an eclectic art array of approximately 121 pieces in the bar’s comfy lounge.