MS Zuiderdam (Holland America)
Maiden voyage: 2002
We were on board this ship in 2012. The first ship in the Vista series, it marks the beginning of Holland America's larger ships. The Vista ships are named for the compass points. Zuiderdam (south), is one of four ships. The Westerdam (West), Noordam (north), and Oosterdam (East) complete the quartet of ships.
Since we booked this cruise fairly late, we had an inside room - 5161. This room was smaller than many of the rooms on other ships we have been on, but even with a 11 night cruise, we were able to manage as we don't typically spend a lot of time in our stateroom.
We booked this cruise primarily for the itinerary as Holland America has some very nice destinations.
The demographic of the typical Holland America cruise is... well, old. With the longer cruises (longer than 7 days), the typical age of the passenger is older, and there are typically fewer children aboard. While the cruise line doesn't exactly roll up the streets after 6pm, the pools close at 9pm, and the activities are quite limited in the late evening.
The main pool has a retractable cover, and it is usually closed in the evenings or during bad weather. The pool area also is host to many activities, including an almost daily barbecue cookout, although the aft pool area is sometimes host to this as well.
Like most ships, there is a theater at the bow, and a buffet style resturant, along with the typical main dining room, and a few specialty resturants. There is a nice Italian style resturant - Canaletto's - which is not to be missed, especially as there is no cover charge.
The propulsion system of this ship consists of a diesel-electric system with diesel engines driving huge generators. The propellers are connected to huge electric motors, slung under the ship in pods called azipods. There are two azipods on either side. The azipods can rotate 360deg, not unlike a small boat with an Inboard/Outboard (stern drive). Since there are no long shafts in the boat, the vibrations are at a minimum.
The ship also features stabilizers; little winglets that extend out of the sides of the ship underwater that serve to minimize the rolling of the ship. This provides a smoother ride in rough water, which enhances passenger comfort (and minimizes the propensity to become sea-sick).