Zaandam is a classy ship that proves you don't need gadgets and gimmicks to have a good time. It's an older ship, sure, and lacking in balconies, but that also means you'll find spacious inside and outside cabins with tons of storage and bathrooms with tubs, a full wraparound promenade complete with teak deck chairs and cozy blankets, and not so much nickel and diming.
With just 1,432 passengers, the ship rarely feels crowded, and passengers can enjoy a truly relaxing vacation at sea. It's easy to get everywhere, with only 10 decks. Lounges are plentiful, whether for an afternoon game of cards or post-dinner drink. Holland America Line generally appeals to a mature crowd, especially with Zaandam's longer cruises, but short cruises will bring in families, who take advantage of the top-deck kids club, the all-weather pool with retractable roof and variety of board games and puzzles in the Explorations Cafe.
The Pinnacle Grill is always one of our favorite specialty restaurants at sea, and the main dining room is a pleasure at breakfast and fine (but not amazing) at dinner. We were impressed with the variety and quality of offerings at the pool grill and the buffet, even if we wished the latter were open longer hours. Room service is mostly complimentary -- a nice touch.
If you're looking for nonstop activities or fast-paced nightlife, Zaandam is not the ship for you. You'll find more party bridge than late-night partying. Entertainment is not necessarily a strong point, but that may change in 2020 when the line's Music Walk venues are added to the ship. Activities lean toward computer classes, afternoon tea and cooking demos; shuffleboard and table tennis are other popular pastimes. Daily trivia sessions, including evening music trivia, bring in the crowds.
Service was unremarkable, but crew were always friendly and would greet us in the hallways. Turn-down chocolates and towel animals remain a nightly ritual to look forward to.
Zaandam is a perfect choice for those who prefer low-key entertainment in spacious surroundings, port-focused itineraries and reasonable, but not overwhelming, dining options. It's classy and classic, and a lovely home for seeing the world.
Holland America traditionally attracts one of cruising's more senior demographics, with most passengers retired or semiretired. You will find some families with children (mainly multigenerational), especially on shorter cruises during school breaks. Most passengers hail from North America, but you'll always find a variety of international cruisers.
Daytime: Casual, to fit the destination and season.
Evening: Most nights are smart-casual, with men wearing slacks or jeans, and women in skirts, slacks or capris, or perhaps a casual dress. On gala nights and in the Pinnacle Grill, a dressier look is requested: collared shirts and slacks for men, and elegant dresses, skirts or slacks for women. Those wishing to avoid dressing up can eat at the Lido Market; note that Canaletto Restaurant, though located adjacent to the Lido, adheres to the evening dress code.
Not permitted: Distressed jeans, shorts, men's tank tops and swimwear are not permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Holland America.
Included with your cruise fare:
One main dining room, buffet, poolside grill and room service
All theater shows
Most daily activities
Use of the gym, but not most classes
Huge DVD library for in-cabin use
Not included with your cruise fare:
Gratuities ($14.50 per person, per day or $16 per person, per day for those staying in suites)
Automatic beverage and spa tips (15 percent for both)
Specialty restaurants Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer and Canaletto
All drinks beyond water, tea (including iced tea), coffee and select juices in the buffet
Photos and artwork, boutique purchases
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