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Zuiderdam Cruise Review
Zuiderdam Cruise Review
This was a 12-night cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark calling at eight Baltic ports.
We arrived two days prior to the cruise in order to explore the city before we embarked. A 48-hour Copenhagen Card, which we had purchased in advance, allowed us unlimited use of trains and buses throughout the city, including the metro ride from the airport. The card also provided free admission to many attractions in Copenhagen, including Rosenborg Castle and the Glyptoteket Museum, which we visited.
On the day of embarkation, we took the metro from the Kongens Nytorv Station to the Norreport Station, where we picked up Bus 25 to Ocean Quay, a modern facility that can handle turnarounds for three large passenger ships. The Zuiderdam was docked at Terminal 2. The embarkation process was very efficient. We were able to go aboard quickly and settle into our balcony stateroom located aft on the starboard side of Deck 5, Verandah Deck.
Also at Ocean Quay that day was Oceania Cruises’ Marina, which was docked at Terminal 1. In the distance, we could see Ponant’s Le Dumont d’Urville, P&O’s Aurora and Marella Cruises’ Marella Explorer (formerly Celebrity Cruises’ Galaxy) docked along Langelinie, which handles ships making port calls.
The Zuiderdam, which entered service in 2002, was the first of Holland America Line’s four Vista class ships. (See our Introduction to the Vista class). The Zuiderdam is 936 feet long and has a beam of 105.8 feet. The ship carries 1,964 passengers and has a crew of 842. It has a speed of 24 knots and a gross tonnage of 82,305. The Zuiderdam has two cylindrical funnels adorned with the new Holland America Line logo of the stylized bow of the Nieuw Amsterdam of 1938 without the image of the sailing ship Halve Maen (Half Moon), which had been part of the old logo.
On our cruise, the Captain of the Zuiderdam was Bart Vaartjes, a Dutch-American from Florida, and the Staff Captain was Vincent C. Engel from England. The Cruise Director was Bradley Maziere from England and the Hotel Director was Darren David Lewis from Germany.
Once we had checked out our stateroom, we had lunch in the Lido Market on Deck 9. Afterwards, we set about exploring the Zuiderdam.
The Atrium, in the middle of the ship, spans Decks 1, 2 and 3. On Deck 1, surrounding the base of atrium, are Guest Services on the port side, a small bar under the stairs and the Future Cruises Office on the starboard side. Daily news summaries and crossword puzzles are available in a rack near Guest Services.
The main public rooms are located on Decks 2 and 3. On Deck 2 forward is the Mainstage, the principal theater on board for production shows and various entertainers. This theater extends from Deck 1 to Deck 3. Holland America Line has introduced a new concept in its Mainstage theater productions. This is the Step One Dance Company, six dancers who perform to prerecorded music with video special effects in the background. This dance company replaces the four singers and eight dancers which usually provide the production shows on Holland America Line ships, such as Noordam. The dance company performed two shows during our cruise. We also saw two comedians, a pianist and an English quartet, the Four Tunes, who sang popular songs ranging from rock and roll to jazz classics and Broadway show tunes.
When you exit the Mainstage and proceed aft on Deck 2, the Casino is on the port side with the Billboard Onboard Lounge on the starboard side. This lounge featured two pianists playing rock and roll classics. There was always a lively crowd in this venue.
The Gallery Bar, the most elegant room aboard the ship, is in a secluded area on the starboard side aft of the Casino. This is Captain Vaartjes’ favorite lounge.
Just aft of the Gallery Bar is America’s Test Kitchen, which becomes B.B. King’s Blues Club at night. At the Atrium, the Pinnacle Grill is on the port side and the Pinnacle Bar on the starboard side. Further along on the starboard side are the Art Gallery, Lincoln Center Stage, Explorer’s Lounge and the Digital Workshop. At the stern is the lower level of the Dining Room.
On Deck 3 forward is the balcony of the Mainstage. Walking aft on Deck 3, you will find the Screening Room, where movies are shown, on the starboard side and the Hudson Room and the Half Moon Room, which serve as card rooms and special event rooms, on the port side. The shops follow on the port and starboard sides. The Ocean Bar surrounds the Atrium. Continuing aft, the Photo Gallery is on the starboard side. The upper level of the Dining Room is at the stern.
The outdoor promenade is on Deck 3. This deck provides enough space for passengers to walk around the ship while other passengers relax in deck chairs.
Staterooms are located on Decks 4 through 8. The largest suites are on Deck 7, Rotterdam Deck. Also on Deck 7 is the Neptune Lounge for passengers in the Pinnacle and Neptune Suites. A concierge in this lounge provides assistance to passengers with reservations for restaurants and port tours.
The bridge of the ship is located at the forward end of Deck 8, Navigation Deck. Above the bridge, on Deck 9, Lido Deck, is the Greenhouse Spa and Salon and the Fitness Club. Walking aft on Deck 9, you arrive mid-ship at the Lido Pool and Lido Bar, which are covered by a magrodome roof, followed by the Lido Market, a portion of which on the starboard side becomes the Canaletto Restaurant at night. The Sea View Pool and Sea View Bar are at the stern.
The Crow’s Nest Lounge is on Deck 10, Observation Deck, with views overlooking the bow. Within this space, on the starboard side, you will also find a small library and the Explorations Central office, where port tours are sold.
Directly above the Crow’s Nest Lounge, on Deck 11, Sports Deck, is an outdoor observation space forward of the mast. Aft of the mast is The Retreat, an area with cabanas which are available to passengers for a fee. Also on Deck 11 is the Sports Court, which is behind the second funnel.
A daily program, When and Where, is provided every night in the cabins. This program details the events of the following day.
During this cruise, we opted for anytime dining. For the most part, this worked very well, since we rarely had to wait more than five minutes for a table. However, we found that the dining room managers consistently tried to seat us in the same area of the dining room. We had to specifically request a new location every day. The food was generally very good, better than the cuisine served on our Noordam cruise. The décor in the Dining Room was dark red and maroon, similar to the Noordam.
* David G. Hume is past chairman of the World Ship Society PONY Branch, Mr. Hume has been on more than 80 cruises and crossings as well as numerous ship visits."
One night during our cruise, we chose to dine in the Pinnacle Grill on Deck 2. On most nights, this restaurant charges a supplement of $35 per person. We found the ambiance elegant and the service excellent. However, the filet mignon I ordered appeared to have been cooked in advance and was charred on the outside and rare in the middle, rather than medium as I had requested. Our waiter immediately offered to replace the meat, but I had expected better quality food preparation from this restaurant.
Exploring the ports
Our first port of call was at Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city after Copenhagen. No other cruise ships were in port, but the tall ship Denmark was docked in the inner harbor. We walked into town, visited Aarhus Cathedral and strolled along a tree lined canal on our way to Den Gamle By, the Old Town Museum.
We spent a day at sea cruising from Aarhus to Tallinn, Estonia. In Tallinn, we were joined by MSC Meraviglia, Costa Magica and Le Dumont d’Urville. We walked into town on a gray, overcast day. We went to Parliament Square, saw Toompea Castle and visited the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Our route took us by the Great Guild Hall from the 1500’s, which now houses the Estonian History Museum.
The next day, we docked at the new cruise terminal in St. Petersburg, Russia. In port that day with the Zuiderdam were Regal Princess, Saga Sapphire (formerly the Europa of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer. Le Dumont d’Urville was docked in the Neva River for the duration of our two-day stay. On the second day, Explorer of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seasand Aurora replaced Regal Princess and Seven Seas Explorer.
On our first day in St. Petersburg, we took a bus tour of the major sights, with photo stops at St. Isaac’s Cathedral and Exchange Square, which has two red Rostral Columns with statues at the base representing the four major rivers of Russia, the Volga, Dnieper, Neva and Volkhov. Each column is adorned with facsimile ships’ prows, representing ships captured by the tsars. Across the street is the Old Stock Exchange. From this square, we had a good view of the Hermitage Museum in one direction and the Peter and Paul Fortress in the other direction. In the fort, we could see Saints Peter and Paul Church, which contains the tombs of the tsars. Our bus tour continued along the Nevsky Prospect, one of the main streets in St. Petersburg. Here we were given two hours to explore on our own before heading back to the ship.
That evening, we attended a performance at the Maryinsky Theatre. We saw two ballets, Firebird and Scheherazade, which had originally been choreographed by Fokine for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris. Firebird was set to music by Stravinsky and Scheherazade was set to music by Rimsky-Korsakov.
On our second day in St. Petersburg, we toured the Faberge Museum and the Rossi Wing of the General Staff Building on Palace Square opposite the Hermitage Museum. The Faberge Museum contains, among its other treasures, seven of the forty-seven eggs produced by Faberge for the tsars. The Rossi Wing of the General Staff Building now houses the paintings by the Impressionists which used to be exhibited in the Hermitage.
From St. Petersburg, we sailed overnight to Helsinki, Finland. Joining us at the cruise terminal were Celebrity Reflection and Marina. Le Dumont d’Urville was docked close to the center of the city. From the port, we took a shuttle bus into town and walked through the streets and parks. We visited Helsinki Cathedral, Uspenski Cathedral and Helsinki Central Station, which was designed by Eliel Saarinen and opened in 1919.
Our next port was Stockholm, Sweden. There were no other cruise ships. In Stockholm, we elected to take two tours. The first was a bus tour of the city ending with a prolonged stop at the Vasa Museum. Here we saw the remains of the warship Vasa, which sank on its first voyage in 1628 near where the Zuiderdam was docked. The state of preservation of the Vasa was astonishing. We had plenty of time to explore and photograph the ship from every angle and from multiple levels. Our second tour was a visit to Drottningholm Palace, which was originally built in the late 16th century as a summer residence for the royal court. It has been the private residence of the Swedish Royal Family since 1981.
After leaving Stockholm, we enjoyed a day at sea before arriving at Warnemunde in Germany. Here we were docked with AIDAmar and Seven Seas Explorer. Since we had travelled to Berlin from Warnemunde on a prior cruise, we decided to visit Schwerin Castle. The castle is on an island in Lake Schwerin and used to be the home of the dukes of Mecklenberg. It now serves as the parliament for the German state of MecklenbergVorpommern. We were shown the rooms formerly occupied by the dukes. Following our tour, we had lunch at a local restaurant. Before our return to the ship, we stopped off for a brief tour of the port city of Rostock.
From Warnemunde, it was a short sail to Kiel, Germany. There were no other cruise ships in port. We chose to walk into town on an overcast and rainy day. We visited the medieval St. Nicholas Church, the Opera House and the Town Hall with its imposing tower. On our departure from Kiel later that day, we passed the entrance to the Kiel Canal, which the Zuiderdam was too big to transit.
Our last port of call was Skagen, Denmark, at the tip of the Jutland Peninsula. We walked into town and went to the Skagens Museum, where we saw paintings in the Impressionist style by local artists. On the day of our visit, a local festival was being held, so there were many people at outdoor tables enjoying refreshments and listening to different bands.
Our cruise terminated at Terminal 3 of Ocean Quay in Copenhagen. We had a leisurely breakfast and left the ship at 9:00 AM. A short walk took us to the bus stop. Here we boarded Bus 25 for a ride to the Norreport Station, where we picked up the metro to the airport.
In total, our cruise encompassed 2,202 miles at an average speed of 15.6 knots. We enjoyed mostly sunny days during our cruise, with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CRUISING ON ZUIDERDAM
Zuiderdam home page
Above: The ship's atrium.
Below: The Gallery Bar.
Above: The Mainstage theater.
Above: The Pinnacle Grill.
Below: The main dining room.
Above: Zuiderdam with MSC Meraviglia.
Cruise ship review - - Holland America Line - - Zuiderdam - - 2019