As part of a rapidly expanding Holland America Line fleet, Zaandam debuted in 2000 after sister R-class ships Rotterdam and Volendam — all named for Dutch cities — with Amsterdam following just five months later. Zaandam's interior design was intentionally jazzier (and there's an overall musical theme throughout) than the other ships in an effort to appeal to a slightly younger demographic.
The 1,432-passenger ship now winters in South America, cruising its Pacific coast as well as shuttling between Valparaiso, Chile, and Buenos Aires via Cape Horn. Zaandam visits Hawaii in spring and spends a full summer season in Alaska.
What We Love
Its Manageable Size: Zaandam has just 716 cabins, appealing to those who want to avoid a ship overrun with several thousand passengers. It's a throwback to vessels of an earlier era and offers a more intimate, low-key ambience. And when in port, the ship’s population does not overwhelm islands and small towns.
Wining and Dining: The Pinnacle Grill, the extra-tariff specialty restaurant, is an ideal setting to celebrate a birthday or anniversary — especially for anyone who enjoys a big juicy steak, fine wine, and attentive service. Guests can also try the Le Cirque menu offered at Pinnacle Grill once every cruise.
Best Known For
A Grown-Up Vibe: Holland America has a reputation for having a relaxed and more sedate atmosphere than other cruise lines with livelier, more party-centric clientele — especially around the pools and in the bars. Explorations, which combines a café, Internet center, and library, is a popular gathering place on Zaandam.
Room to Roam: The ship's wide teak Lower Promenade Deck draws those who enjoy daily walks when at sea or simply hanging out in a deck chair and reading while watching the ocean waves.
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Who It's Best For
Mature Cruisers: Zaandam attracts a sedate Middle America crowd looking to cruise at their own pace — without being overwhelmed by the energy of larger, flashier ships. Passengers on the longer South America cruises will be older than those sailing to Alaska.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Menus Can Be Bland: The food in the Rotterdam Dining Room is middle of the road, so don’t expect especially creative or fancy dishes. Most passengers like it that way, while gourmands will not.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.
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Zaandam at a Glance
- Line: Holland America Line
- Class: Rotterdam
- Number of Passengers: 1432
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2000
- Refurbish Date: 2010