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  #1  
Old August 19th, 2010, 06:25 AM
cruisingwithrobin cruisingwithrobin is offline
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Question Volendam vs. Zuiderdam

I'm trying to decide which ship to book for a Vancouver/Vancouver Alaska Inside Passage late July 2011 cruise. Any advice?
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  #2  
Old August 19th, 2010, 07:13 AM
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Krazy Kruizers Krazy Kruizers is offline
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Welcome to Cruise Critic.

First I would check to see which ship spends the most time in the ports.

Have sailed on both -- would choose the Zuiderdam is there is more port time with this ship.
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  #3  
Old August 19th, 2010, 07:32 AM
cruisingwithrobin cruisingwithrobin is offline
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Time in ports is identical. The ships leave on different days of the week but that is all the difference in the itineraries.
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  #4  
Old August 19th, 2010, 10:58 AM
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We had to make the same decision. Both itineraries are identical. Here are the pros and cons we found.

The Volendam sails on Wednesdays. That means fewer cruise ships when you embark and at each port, so crowds are, hopefully, smaller. But since it's middle of the week, it may be harder to schedule time away from work depending on your circumstances. The Zuiderdam sails on Saturdays when more ships sail, so possibility of bigger crowds, but better schedules with regard to time off work.

The Volendam is smaller, so again fewer people to get around, but it is not designed with balcony lovers in mind. The balconies go for a premium. The Z has more reasonably priced balcony cabins, but more passengers. (We loved our balcony in Alaska.)

The tie breaker for us was the lay out of the ship. Knowing what we like to do when aboard, the Z will more often be easier for me to negotiate. I have mobility issues, so the nearer the venues we'll be using are to each other, the better for me. But for most people, that isn't an issue. In fact, since the Volendam is smaller, most prople with mobiity issues would find her preferable. This is a quirk for us.
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  #5  
Old August 19th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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We made this same choice last year and went with the Zuiderdam. The verandah advantage LindaKE brings up was key for us. We were able to get a verandah we could afford on the Zuiderdam. This was our first verandah and we found it well worth it. If you don't want a verandah the choice comes down to Wed. vs Sat. departure.

The Zuiderdam isn't that big compared to some of the newer ships on other lines. It still is very comfortable to get around. The decor colors are rather strange but otherwise the ship is very nice.
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  #6  
Old August 19th, 2010, 11:48 AM
cruisingwithrobin cruisingwithrobin is offline
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Thanks LindaKE and jmps!
We were also wondering about flying in the same day as the ship departs. Did either of you do that?
I need to check airfare... Wednesday vs. Saturday... one day might be cheaper than the other.
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  #7  
Old August 19th, 2010, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruisingwithrobin View Post
Thanks LindaKE and jmps!
We were also wondering about flying in the same day as the ship departs. Did either of you do that?
I need to check airfare... Wednesday vs. Saturday... one day might be cheaper than the other.
On these boards are many suggestions to NOT fly in same day you leave. I agree with them all. All it takes is one little glitch in your day to miss the sailaway and they will not wait for you. Why leave it to chance when you can eliminate the stress, get a relaxing night's sleep, awake refreshed and start your adventure by coming in one day early. PLUS there will be time in port to shop for wine and anything you forgot.

Have a great cruise!
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  #8  
Old August 19th, 2010, 12:40 PM
CDiamond CDiamond is offline
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We just did this cruise in July. We went with the Volendam mainly because of the Wed sailing. We were the only large ship in Juneau and Skagway. No crowds at all, and docked in perfect spots for getting on and off the ship.
We loved the Volendam. Whole crew was very friendly, always smiling.
We were in Cat C, lower promenade which is an outside view on the walking deck. And, no, we had no problem with anyone trying to look in the window.
We liked being able to quickly walk out to either side of the ship to see things, and it was easy to go back to the room to get a jacket, etc. We had beautiful weather so I'm sure a balcony would have been nice, but we felt if we had bad weather we did not want to spend the extra money. But, as other ones have said, the Zuiderdam does have more balconys and so they are cheaper than Volendam.
No matter which ship you will love this cruise.
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  #9  
Old August 19th, 2010, 12:58 PM
Assateague Island Princes Assateague Island Princes is offline
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You could also book one of the "secret" cabins on the aft of the Navigation deck of the Volendam (I think its 7086???). We had a similar cabin on the sister ship Amsterdam for our 14 day sailing to Alaska on May 31st. It was perfect - best of both worlds! And this from a die hard balcony-in-Alaska fan!! I was convinced we'd be unhappy - wrong! Now I think I'd prefer sailing the smaller ships and getting one of the secret cabins - for less money than a balcony, but all the benefits of having one! So-called secret because it is an oceanview on the aft of the Navigation deck, with your window overlooking a little used and little known public deck. Just steps out our cabin door (4 to be exact!) to this wonderfully private deck. No one was ever out there, but us. Big fans of wake views, and we sure did have 'em here! A staircase goes up to the aft Lido deck for easy access to food, snacks, or adult beverages. The deck beneath us was even more private - no cabins with windows facing the deck, but still accessible thru the aft hallway and door to the deck. Something to consider!
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  #10  
Old August 19th, 2010, 01:48 PM
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The food in the main dining room of the Zuiderdam was some of the best we have had on a HAL ship. I first thought the Z color scheme was the worst of the bunch from the HAL website photos, but somehow the dark rich purples and burgundies worked to make it feel very elegant after all. So we thought the Z was a very good Vista ship, but our hearts to stick with the smaller HAL ships.

I can see this will be a hard choice. But if you can get a larger "superior" SZ, SY suites on the Zuiderdam, this could tip it in its favor for Alaska because the outdoor viewing can get cold and this trip is one where having a really nice large balcony and extra cabin windows can make a difference to view a lot of it from inside your snug and warm cabin.
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  #11  
Old August 19th, 2010, 02:25 PM
cruisingwithrobin cruisingwithrobin is offline
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Decisions, decisions...

Any way of knowing which ship was updated last?

Is there a way of knowing which cabins are still available or do I need to have an agent check this for me?
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  #12  
Old August 19th, 2010, 03:39 PM
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I have traveled on both of the Ships. I like the Zuiderdam but I love the Volendam. The Volendam would be my choice, hands down.
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  #13  
Old August 19th, 2010, 11:51 PM
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Vancouver is such a wonderful city I suggest arriving a few days early. We had a wonderful time prior to our cruise.
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  #14  
Old August 20th, 2010, 08:41 AM
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Both ships are HAL (Volendam more than Zuiderdam) so the choice could come down to which itinerary you prefer.

My first and last Vista class cruise was on Zuiderdam. I don't "hate" Vista, but they're more Carnival than HAL in design. These a few of my review comments at the time, Sept 2003:

The décor is appropriate to the itinerary. Zuiderdam was built and designed for year round Caribbean cruising and the interior motifs reflect this concept. Some areas offer a challenge to navigate; especially the central lounges adjoining the casino on deck two. There are nooks, crannies and small corridors to deal with, somewhat similar to what is occasionally found in the lounge areas of some land resort hotels. Maybe this is what the designers had in mind? The central atrium is smaller than on the S and R Class ships. This provides more space for the lounges and other public areas, but I miss the larger atrium which I often use as a reference point for navigation.
The ship is impeccably clean and shows little signs of wear, a credit to the maintenance crew, her Hotel Manager Nick Burger, and Captain Johannes van Biljouw. Zuiderdam’s condition and appearance is extraordinary considering that 1800 people tramp through her every week.
Unlike the S and R Class ships, Zuiderdam does not have a passenger use laundry. Twice we used the $12 per ‘full bag’ laundry service. Both times delivery was next day.

The Lounges:
The Best:
Crow’s Nest. Great viewing lounge with huge wraparound window located forward on deck ten. Cocktail piano, also theme night music such as 50s & 60s tunes by CD. Explorer’s Lounge. Classical music by The Rosario Strings.This is also the venue for afternoon tea. Excellent snacks and a good selection of teas (save room for the scones!).

The Worst: Queen’s Lounge. So poorly designed that it’s useless for any function. That’s too bad because The HAL Cats, a truly good band fronted by a first-rate vocal quartet, plays danceable music here most nights.
Ocean Bar - Once again, poor design. This lounge is totally open to the atrium losing any identity as a lounge, and the dance floor is too small. For some incomprehensible reason, a divider is installed across the center of the seating area, disconnecting the rear of the lounge from the front. Music is by Meir & Rae Ann on drums and a piano. How eclectic is that? Music is mostly traditional dance: fox trot, waltz, tango, etc.

No Opinion: Northern Lights Late night activity usually starting at 10PM, mostly disco and light rock. A DJ spinning CDs supplies music. Booth seating surrounds a largish dance floor. Design by Gateway.
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Last edited by Stevesan; August 20th, 2010 at 08:42 AM.
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  #15  
Old August 22nd, 2010, 03:28 AM
dgbullfrog dgbullfrog is offline
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Just returned from the Alaska cruise on the Volendam on the Wed itinerary and it was wonderful. No experience with the Zdam. The Wed itenerary was great because there were no other ships in port in Juneau and Skagway. In Ketchikan there were 2 ships there when we arrived but they left much earlier than the Volendam. We didn't have to deal with any crowds, which made sightseeing, shopping, excursions much more relaxing.

I read that the Volendam is scheduled for dry dock in April 2011, so it will have some upgrades prior to your cruise. Not sure what they will be, possibly some of the SOE (Signature of Excellence?) upgrades that other ships have had done. For one I expect the make shift Canaletto in the Lido that we had on our cruise last week will become a dedicated specialty restaurant.

If you go to Expedia or Travelocity you can look at the various dates and cabin prices/availability. Whether you book threw them or a travel agent is up to you, but it can give you an idea of pricing for different room classifications and dates. It helped me to narrow down which week we would go, since we had the flexibility I chose the week with lower cost for the cabin we wanted.

BTW we had the aforementioned secret inside room that actually has a window, cabin 7086. It was great having a window with a nice view and easy access to the lightly used aft deck, for the cost of an inside cabin. All the other cabins on those two levels have their own private balconies, so not many people use the aft deck. There is no bathtub only a shower in that room, I think there is one less wardrobe closet, (3 instead of 4) but it was enough for all our clothes, and a funky little alcove that doesn't seem to be of much use but we found it very useful for the luggage and backpack and other things that we could put back there and not have cluttering up our space. However, I've read that the cabin may be upgraded to an outside cabin classification soon.
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  #16  
Old November 25th, 2010, 12:36 AM
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7086 is now a DD outside cabin, so sad, but 7068 and 7071 are still close to the back deck, inside cabins.
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  #17  
Old November 25th, 2010, 09:44 AM
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We did the Volendam to Alaska in September and the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal last week. I much prefer the Volendam, as the Zuiderdam seemed to be one of the most "chopped up" ship designs I have been on. There is a very small atrium, which seems to be the focus of "people watching" on most ships. It seemed to me that you had to almost seek out entertainment venues. On the Zuiderdam, the library, normally a place for quiet reading, opens full wall into the Crow's Nest bar. We thought this was very strange. I think a smaller ship is better for Alaska. And definitely go a few days early, if you can, to enjoy Vancouver, which we found to be a beautiful city. I wrote up a review on my Alaska Volendam and will soon write one on the Zuiderdam. Based on my experiences, I would recommend the Volendam.
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  #18  
Old November 25th, 2010, 04:45 PM
Iwant2BatC Iwant2BatC is online now
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This is a cruise where the Captain makes all the difference in the world. some captains are much more vocal than others and go out of their way to point out interesting wildlife and fauna. Some don't say a word. I have done the Alaska cruise at least 15 times and there are huge differences in the quality of the experience. I agree that the Zuiderdam has a more cut up feeling than the Volendam. The Volendam is easy to navigate and getting out on the front deck is very special. Enjoy!
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  #19  
Old November 26th, 2010, 08:00 AM
Stevesan Stevesan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teacherman View Post
We did the Volendam to Alaska in September and the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal last week. I much prefer the Volendam, as the Zuiderdam seemed to be one of the most "chopped up" ship designs I have been on. There is a very small atrium, which seems to be the focus of "people watching" on most ships. It seemed to me that you had to almost seek out entertainment venues. On the Zuiderdam, the library, normally a place for quiet reading, opens full wall into the Crow's Nest bar. We thought this was very strange. I think a smaller ship is better for Alaska. And definitely go a few days early, if you can, to enjoy Vancouver, which we found to be a beautiful city. I wrote up a review on my Alaska Volendam and will soon write one on the Zuiderdam. Based on my experiences, I would recommend the Volendam.
My thoughts, exactly. My first, and last, Vista Class cruise was on Zuiderdam in Y2003. This is excerpted from my review:

Some areas offer a challenge to navigate; especially the central lounges adjoining the casino on deck two. There are nooks, crannies and small corridors to deal with, somewhat similar to what is occasionally found in the lounge areas of some land resort hotels. Maybe this is what the designers had in mind? The central atrium is smaller than on the S Class ships. This provides more space for the lounges and other public areas, but I miss the larger atrium which I often use as a reference point for navigation.
The ship is impeccably clean and shows little signs of wear, a credit to the maintenance crew, her Hotel Manager Nick Burger, and Captain Johannes van Biljouw. Zuiderdam’s condition and appearance is extraordinary considering that 1800 people tramp through her every week.
Unlike the S Class ships, Zuiderdam does not have a passenger use laundry. Twice we used the $12 per ‘full bag’ laundry service. Both times delivery was next day.

The Lounges:
The Best:
Crow’s Nest. Great viewing lounge with huge wraparound window located forward on deck ten. Cocktail piano, also theme night music such as 50s & 60s tunes by CD. Explorer’s Lounge. Classical music by The Rosario Strings.This is also the venue for afternoon tea. Excellent snacks and a good selection of teas (save room for the scones!).

The Worst: Queen’s Lounge. So poorly designed that it’s useless for any function.
Ocean Bar - Once again, poor design. This lounge is totally open to the atrium losing any identity as a lounge, and the dance floor is too small. For some incomprehensible reason, a divider is installed across the center of the seating area, disconnecting the rear of the lounge from the front.
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1957 USS General A.E. Anderson Tokyo to San Francisco
1999 Norwegian Sea W. Caribbean
1999 Rotterdam VI Europe
2000 Mercury W. Caribbean
2000 Volendam S. Caribbean
2001 Viking Star Danube River
2001 Veendam E. Caribbean
2002 Veendam B2B Alaska
2003 Zuiderdam B2B W/E Caribbean
2004 Maasdam E. Caribbean
2005 Grand Princess W. Caribbean,
2005 RVI Europe
2005 Veendam S. Caribbean
2006 Grand Princess W. Caribbean
2007 Grand Princess W. Caribbean
2008 Crown Princess S. Caribbean
2008 Sea Princess Canada/New England
2009 Maasdam S. Caribbean
2009 Crown Princess British Isles
2010 Grand Princess S. Caribbean
2010 Carnival Conquest W. Caribbean
2010 Crown Princess W. Caribbean
2011 Maasdam S. Caribbean
2011 Emerald Princess B2B E/S Caribbean
2012 Carnival Magic W. Caribbean
2013 Crown Princess W. Caribbean
2014 Caribbean Princess W. Caribbean January 11
2014 Caribbean Princess W. Caribbean April 19

Last edited by Stevesan; November 26th, 2010 at 08:02 AM.
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  #20  
Old November 26th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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Have never been on the Zuiderdam but have been on the similar Oosterdam and while it was OK we much prefer the smaller R and S class ships. In fact, our favorite ship of the HAL fleet is the Volendam, an R class, with the Ryndam, an S class, a close second. While we have no interest in Alaska itineraries we'd picked the Volendam over just about any ship, certainly over any of the Vista class like the Zuiderdam.
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