The MS Zaandam was designed to be more spacious than most medium sized cruise ships, offering maximum comfort for fewer guests. It conforms to the ‘Signature of Excellence’ quality standards of the rest of the HAL fleet, with the familiar style that combines tradition with modernity and makes great use of the company’s extensive art collection. This includes many large sculptures decorating the public areas, culminating in the ship’s signature giant sculpture of an elaborate Baroque pipe organ that dominates the atrium and announces the ship’s musical theme. The theme continues with various musical instruments scattered around the ship as conversation pieces, including President Clinton’s saxophone and guitars signed by rock stars.
The Zaandam aims to attract a younger crowd, although the familiar features are still there to please the older passengers: the art auctions, spa treatments, bingo, variety shows, chef’s demonstrations and shore excursions. The ship is blessed with a beautiful teak wrap-around promenade deck with traditional wooden deck-chairs. Every morning, while the ship is at sea, passengers can go on an organised mile-long walk around the deck.
Staterooms are spacious, comfortable and beautifully designed in a contemporary style. Vista Suites, Neptune Suites and penthouse Pinnacle Suites include personal concierge service and various other luxuries dependent on your level of stateroom. Neptune and Pinnacle Suites represent the best of HAL accommodation and include inclusive access to the luxurious Neptune Lounge, which can be a place to meet and socialise with other guests, to work, watch TV or just relax in peace and comfort.
The main dining area, the Rotterdam Dining Room, is a grand high-ceiling, two story space with windows on three sides and an opulent red, purple and gold colour scheme. It serves breakfasts, lunches and evening meals with a continental or international flavour, including 22 vegetarian options for lunch and dinner. This is a great place for breakfast, where there is open seating and the food is always freshly prepared.
The Lido Restaurant serves tea and coffee all day as well as three buffet meals, and there are stations for Italian and Asian food. For outdoor food such as burgers, hotdogs or tacos, visit the Terrace Grill.
For an extra tariff, the Pinnacle Grill has a lunch and dinner menu with a specialist Pacific Rim and Northwest slant, including a wine list featuring US west coast wines. Enjoy an intimate evening meal in the Canaletto Restaurant, which offers a good Italian menu including the chef’s antipasti selection.
When the Wajang Theatre is not screening films, it doubles as the demonstration kitchen. Besides the free chef’s demonstrations, guests can reserve a place on more intimate, hands-on classes. Other classes include line dancing, beauty and fitness classes and a range of computer classes, or you can purchase a day pass to the Greenhouse Spa. Sport is also well catered for, with paddle tennis and basketball courts, two swimming pools, and a fully-equipped gymnasium—splendidly located above the bow of the ship—as well as traditional cruise ship games such as table tennis and shuffleboard.
Conforming to the ship’s musical theme, there is music everywhere. You can enjoy the dance trio in the colourful Ocean Bar, or the Piano Bar pianist’s repertoire of old standards. In the Atrium, a string quartet plays light classical tunes, setting your pre-dinner mood; then wind up the evening with a mellow rock combo and a late night disco in the Crow’s Nest.