For anyone looking for information like I was, I thought I would share my experiences.
We set sail from Vancouver on Saturday 9/2/06, we found out at check in that our room had changed from 6048 to 8050, we got upgraded so they say. If you are thinking about staying on the 8th floor I would not suggest anything between 8045-8070 these rooms are right below the lido deck pool. You will hear the thumping of people walking around until 1:00 in the morning and hear it start up again at 6:00 am. You will also hear the crew setting up tables, moving chairs while washing down the deck. We double checked to see if it really was an upgrade and was reassured it was. I would stick with a lower deck with a little less room and a peaceful night sleep then an larger room with constant noise, even on your balcony.
Or room steward was fantastic, I loved the towel animals every night, we did not get that on our first crusie on the Diamond Princess. The furniture on the balcony was very nice and comfortable as too and it was covered so if it was raining your could still enjoy your balcony without getting all wet.
They had a great bon voyage party on the back of the ship that was a lot of fun, no hosted drinks but a great band and a festive enviroment. We had lot of Austrilians and New Zelanders on the ship so it was a lively bunch. We has assigned dining which we didn't have on our first cruise, or dining was on the 3rd floor at 7:45, the service started out a little rough, they never filled our water glasses or coffee after dinner, they were very good at remembering what cocktails we ordered. We also had to self bus or prebus tables in the Lido Buffet. I filled out a comment card and noticed a big change after that.
DO NOT BE FOOLED ABOUT 24/7 DINING!!!!! This is not the case, to give you an example the Lido buffett will serve lunch from 11:00-2:00 and closes until dinner time around 5:30, the assigned dining is the same. The grill to get hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages is open from about 10:30-6:00. What got me the most, is the day of our excursion to Skagway, you had to be back on the ship at 8:30 that's when the gang plank went up. That is also when Lido Buffet and the assigned dining closed, so don't think about getting a bite on the ship once you return from sight seeing. We called the desk and the only thing available was room service, we had a club sandwich, ok and a cheesburger urgh! from room service and it was not good. I could not belive their dining times, if you are taking this cruise watch your time and schedule your day and time back on the ship by the ships dining times or spend some cash and eat in town. I will admit they did post their restircted time on the daily sheets, we just didn't catch it and was stupid enough to believe their constant comments about 24 hour around the clock eating, it is only if you want room service and a limited menu. Please keep that in mind, it was a big dissapoinment. Again I was impressed by their response when I complained on my comment card.
Can't say much about the entertainment because we only caught the first show, the comedian and he was good. We enjoyed the American Idol style contest they had and some of the other activies they put on by the cruise activites team. We left the cruise with about 6 beverage punchs left, I don't recommend this card, you have to have the cup with you so if you want soda in the main dining room it's tacky to bring the cup with you, it's a much better deal to buy the soda as you go. The soda cup you get holds less then 8 oz of soda, we poured one into a small cup and it didn't fill it up. If you order a soda and pay for it, you get the can, a much better deal. The pictures are very expensive but we shelled out the cash, they have photographers all over the ship to capture all those special moments.
Over all I would rate the food in the Lido dining room, mainly dinner and a few breakfasts a 8 out of 10. Don't do breakfast in the buffet, everthing is pre-cooked, powdered microwaved eggs, precooked french toast from a heating pan, the breakfast in the main dining is much better although it takes a lot longer, it's also nice to sit with different people every day.
Lido Buffet a 6 out of 10, people raved about the bread pudding, I just couldn't find what was so fantastic??
Pinical Grill, it cost $20.00 per person but worth it, the steak was fantastic, the service amazing, the selection and dessert was so much better then anything else we had experienced. The ship messed up on our reservation time and date but they still accomodated us, it was on the day of our anniversary, very impressive!
Would I take the Holland America cruise line again, no I don't want to plan my trips around a tight dining time, all the food in the lido buffet is served instead of the guests serving themselves so the lines were very long. Compared to my first cruise on the Diamond Princess the Zuiderdam couldn't touch it with service. I hope this helps anyone looking for comments from a cruiser to Alaska on the Zuiderdam.