Now that we’d gone through check in at the Port of Vancouver, and after a 45 minute delay the Zuiderdam finally was on its way. After sailing beneath the Lion’s Gate Bridge we decided we should get ready for dinner, and wondering what we should expect on the first night aboard Holland America’s Zuiderdam.
Dinner selections on the Zuiderdam are the buffet style choices on the Lido Deck, casual dining, the Vista dining room on Deck 2, or make reservations at the Pinnacle Grill at a cost of $20 per person (that price has probably gone up!). We never ate there on the cruise. Meals are included with the price of the cruise, unless you eat in the specialty restaurants. We ate at either the Lido Restaurant or the Vista Dining Room. Avoiding the swanky restaurants is just one of the ways to save money on a cruise.
The Vista Dining Room is open for dinner from about 5pm to 8pm to be seated. The restaurant is on 2 floors, Decks 2 and 3, on the aft end of the Zuiderdam. The diners on Deck 3 are the ones who chose a confirmed eating time of either 5:30 or 8:00 when making their cruise reservation. The cruisers who chose open seating go to Deck 2 any time during the dinner serving. You have the choice of a table for 2, 4, 6, or 8. If you have no preference, you will be seated either at a table for 6 or 8. This is always the best, meeting new dinner companions each night. If you want a table for 2 you might have to wait. If you’re waiting for a table, you can either hang around the lobby outside the dining room entrance, or the maitre d’ gives you a pager that will light up and make noise when your table is ready. You don’t want to be too far away, because if you don’t show up, or take too long, your spot will be given to the next person.
The formal dining room Vista has menus with 4 courses – Starter, Appetizer, Entree, Dessert – and each course has 4 or 5 selections to choose from. When dinner is over, the waiter returns with the dessert menu, again about 5 choices plus several homemade ice cream and sorbet choices. My recommendation is to choose a dessert item (cake, tart, mousse) and to also choose a sorbet, which is just a scoop plus a thin wafer. You can have as many desserts as you like!
Expect to spend one and a half to two hours if choosing the Vista. Service is slow, but there’s lots of time to get to know your tablemates.
The dinner menu will be posted each day in the afternoon. Check it out and make a decision whether to eat in the formal dining room or upstairs in the Lido buffet. Generally, the Lido will have very similar selections to what is being served in the Vista Dining room. The benefits to the Lido dining room is it’s more casual and you get your food faster. In the Vista, the wait staff do not clear plates until everyone is finished. If you get seated with extremely slow eaters, you will be there a long time. The Lido is a great alternative if you’ve been on a port excursion and just want to relax and not get all dressed up for dinner. We could eat dinner and dessert and be out in half an hour.
After dinner we went to the Vista Show Lounge on the bow of Decks 2 and 3 to catch the evening show, a variety act that introduced the Zuiderdam’s singers and dancers that lasted about one hour.
If it’s a nice evening, head up to Deck 10, grab a lounge chair and a blanket, and watch the lights of Vancouver Island flitter past.
If you’re still hungry, there are snacks and hors d’ouevres type items served in the Lido buffet restaurant starting around 11pm. And room service is available, no extra charge, 24 hours.