Finally, on our last day at sea, we had beautiful weather. It was actually sunny for almost the entire day. Even now, as the sun has almost set, there are only a few wispy clouds in the sky.
I used the opportunity to explore the entire ship, including some outside areas that were either closed off or too unpleasant to visit in the bad weather. So, for those interested, here’s a detailed description of Holland America’s ms. Zaandam. We’ll work our way from the bottom to the top, and from fore to aft.
Deck 1 is the lowest deck passengers can regularly visit (sometimes Deck A is used for tenders or a gangway). It’s called the Dolphin Deck since, I assume, you’re basically sleeping with the fishes. Deck 2, where our stateroom is located is called the Main Deck. Why? No idea. As far as I can tell, both decks only have staterooms.
Deck 3 is where the ship begins to get interesting. This is the Lower Promenade, and is where I spent a lot of time since it’s the only deck where you can 1) walk around the perimeter of the entire ship; 2) get views of the scenery, port, after, and starboard without glass; and 3) is sheltered from the elements by a roof. This deck also has the self-service laundry ($3.00 – in quarters – for a wash; $1.50 to dry), and the lifeboat stations. One lap of the outdoor promenade is a quarter mile, so I did 12 laps or 3 miles of walking this afternoon. I wouldn’t recommend staying the cabins on the Lower Promenade, since your cabin looks out on the people walking on the deck, and only beyond that the water. When people leave their curtains open, it’s very easy to see into their cabins when the sky is dark or overcast.
Deck 4 is the Promenade. In the front of the ship is the bow, which is open when viewing glaciers, etc. Next is the main level of the Mondriaan Theater, where the comedians, magicians, dancers, and singers perform. Moving aft we have the photo gallery where all the pictures taken by the various photographers employed by the cruise line display the photos they’ve shot of you in the hope you’ll buy them. In the Atrium (more on that below), is the Front Office. This is where you can ask to have your toilet unplugged, get change for the laundry, check out DVDs, or deal with issues regarding your bill. There’s also an office that offers to sell shore excursions and across from it is the art gallery, selling high-brow kitsch, like Thomas Kinkade.
A little further down is the theater, where they do the cooking show, and across from it is the Pinnacle Grill, which is the premium dining spot on the ship. Between the midship and aft elevators, there is no passage. This is the ship’s kitchen. To get to the main level of the Rotterdam Restaurant, which is the ship’s main sit-down dining room, you need to go up or down one level to access it through the aft staircase or elevator.
Deck 5 is the Upper Promenade. I’ve probably spent more time here than on any deck other than my cabin. In the fore is the upper level of the Mondriaan Theater. A midships there is the casino on one side and the Mix bar on the other. Moving aft is the library, where I’ve spent a lot of time reading books or the New York Times, and on the other side is the lounge where they play classical music in the evenings. Finally, in the aft of the deck is the upper level of the Rotterdam dining room.
Deck 6 is the Verandah Deck, which is only cabins. Deck 7 is the Navigation Deck, which has large cabins (mostly suites from what little I could see), and also the Neptune Lounge. There’s a sign on the lounge saying that it’s only for guests of the Pinnacle Grill and the Neptune Lounge. I’m guessing that if I don’t already know that I can visit it, it’s off limits. It’s actually located in the interior, with windows on either side facing the main corridors. It kind of resembles a first class airport lounge.
Deck 8 is the Lido Deck. At the fore of the ship is the health club, with treadmills facing out over the view of the ocean. Behind them is the spa, which I did not visit. I thought if I was going to walk on a treadmill, it would be more interesting to be outdoors in the fresh air, so I did my walking on the outer promenade on Deck 3. A midships are the hot tubs and the main pool. For most of the trip, the roof remained covered as the weather was so unpleasant, but today, the retracted it, allowing us to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. There’s also an outdoor buffet with fast food style items (e.g., hamburgers, hotdogs, tacos, nachos, etc.). Today they also had a special salmon grill buffet next to the pool, which I rather enjoyed.
Beyond that is the Lido Buffet, which dad prefers for lunch and dinner. While the two sides are mostly the same, there are some differences (e.g., the port side has the Belgian waffles and the design your own past sauce; the starboard side has the taste of Asia lunch selection). In the far aft is the Sea View pool, which I saw for the first time today.
Above all this is Deck 9, the Sports Deck. In the fore of the ship is the Crow’s Nest bar, with large floor to ceiling windows on three sides. Behind that there’s an exterior walkway that overlooks the pool (when the roof is retracted). There are small tennis courts, I think, on either side and then in the back is something called “The Loft” (I have no idea what that is), and Club HAL, which is basically the child care center on the ship.
You can climb up stairs both fore and aft. In the front, you’re basically standing on top of the Crow’s Nest. Aft, there is a recreation area called “the Oasis” with fake, tropical stone décor, but there was also a sign saying “Crew Only.” So either this is just for crew, or, more likely, it’s only open in warm weather.
To move between floors, there are three banks of elevators: fore, midships, and aft. On the floor of each elevator is a carpet that helpfully announces the day of the week (they must be changed every night). Next to the elevators are stairs running up and down. Each stairway is decorated differently. The fore staircase has paintings of historical Dutch-flagged ships of the early twentieth century; the midships staircase has scientific drawings of various flora; and the aft staircase has reproductions of Escher etchings.
Between the fore and midships elevators is the Atrium. This can be found on the Decks 3, 4, and 5. A half-circular staircase runs down each level on the port side and the middle of the Atrium is a three-story pipe organ, decorated in baroque fashion. They actually played it for a few minutes today, but I was doing my stroll on the outer promenade.
Last night was the first night I went to bed before dad. He decided to visit the casino after the classical concert; he told me this morning that the other poker players weren’t very good.
“Why?” I asked.
“They stayed in when they should’ve gotten out, and got out when they should’ve stayed in.”
“Didn’t that mean that you won money?”
We had to change our clocks last night, since we left the Alaska Time Zone and joined the Pacific. Beyond that we didn’t do all that much today. The chef class was ok. The hostess keeps saying that sea salt is preferable to other kinds because it has less sodium, which makes no sense whatsoever. I went to the premium wine tasting this afternoon, which I really enjoyed, and after that went for a long walk on the lower promenade. Then I met my father for our last dinner in the Rotterdam Dining Room.
Joy, Morris, and Dorothy were already there; Dick is fasting today. We all enjoyed the meal and the conversation, and we talked for nearly two hours. Eventually we had to leave so they could set up for the next sitting. I also wanted to walk on the outer deck with dad at least once today so he could see the beautiful scenery of Vancouver Island, which we’ve been passing all afternoon. After a short walk we went back in and found seats for the final show of the trip. This involved bringing back both the comedian and the magician. I think dad enjoyed the comedian more again.
After the show, dad went to the casino; I walked around the deck one last time watching the sunset, then went into the cabin to put the luggage tags on our suitcases. Dad’s already packed; I’m 90% packed. Our suitcases need to be out by midnight. We have a relatively late departure from the ship after we dock in Vancouver (between 8:15 and 8:30 am), so we will grab a quick breakfast in the morning.