Alaskan Cruise

Part 2 of 2. The Art and Architecture of the Zuiderdam

David Smitherman
8 min readMar 24, 2024

Our flight arrived in Vancouver on Friday, where we spent the night, and boarded the Zuiderdam on Saturday. Our hotel was the Fairmont Waterfront, located across the street from the Canada Place where we boarded our ship. The Canada Place is not only a cruise ship terminal, but also accommodates the port authority, conference facilities, trade center, seaplane tours, and a hotel.

Once onboard the Zuiderdam, we checked into our room, and attended a safety briefing. Our room was on an upper level with a balcony facing starboard, ideal for wonderful views, and a lot of photography.

Our balcony and the safety briefing.

Our assigned lifeboat was at Assembly Station 3, on the Upper Promenade Deck. Here we were given a safety briefing that included an overview of the emergency systems on the ship, locating and donning life jackets, and how to safely board the life boats. The lifeboats are huge, holding about two hundred people in each to accommodate just over 2,000 passengers and 800 crew members.

The Zuiderdam was launched in 2001, and began operations in 2002 with the Holland America Line. Holland America was founded in 1873, and is based in Rotterdam Netherlands, which is also the ship’s port of registry. There are three sister ships, the Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Noordam, with the prefix of each in Dutch indicating the directions on a compass. Zuiderdam was built by Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilding company based in Trieste Italy, one of the largest ship building companies in the world, building both commercial and military vessels.

Holland America Line image of the Zuiderdam.

We toured the Zuiderdam on days 1 and 7, as those were the days we would be at sea, leaving Vancouver for the Inside Passage in Alaskan waters, and then returning.

Day 1. At Sea

On our first full day we traveled up the coast and out at sea, which gave us an opportunity to tour the boat to learn our way around, and see their beautiful accommodations. The weather was clearing and warm.

Headed out to sea.

Deck 1, the Main Deck, and Decks 2 and 3, the Promenade Decks, opened up at the forward end to the World Stage, a theater designed to hold everyone on board. They hosted shows in the evenings, and educational seminars during the day, that provided an overview of the sights we would be seeing each day.

Overview of the glaciers we could see along the way.

Deck 2, the Lower Promenade, included the main entrance to the World Stage, a Casino, the Gallery Bar, and the Rolling Stones Lounge.

Dining included the Pinnacle Grill and Bar, shops, the Explorers Lounge, and a more formal Dining Room open for every meal with a wide variety of delights.

Promenade Deck Dining Room.

Deck 3, the Promenade Deck, included a balcony entrance to the World Stage …

… and a quiet retreat in the Library. There is a mall like area of shops …

Library and Lounge.

… the Ocean Bar and Lounge, and an upper level to the Dining Room.

Deck 4, the Upper Promenade Deck provided access to the life boats out on the port and starboard decks, where we received our safety briefing shortly after boarding.

Also on Deck 4, and Decks 5 through 8 are the staterooms, where most of them have balconies off to the port and starboard sides.

Our stateroom was on Deck 8, the Navigation Deck, where we were located just a few rooms down from the Bridge.

It was just right for us, with comfortable sleeping, lounging, and bath facilities, and a balcony view on the starboard side.

Our stateroom and the hand towel creatures.

Every evening we would discover a treat in our room, and a new hand towel creature, some just hanging around.

Deck 9, the Lido Deck, featured a Fitness Room where you could work out on treadmills and other machines, with a panoramic view over the forward end of the ship.

The Lido Bar.

There is the Lido Pool inside, and the Lido Bar with beautifully sculpted barstools, the Lido Market, and the Sea View Pool, outside on the aft deck. The aft deck had a strange sight, beautiful ice sculptures around the food bars with swimmers in the swimming pool. A sculpture of a “Polar Bear with Her Cub” was overlooking the pool, sculpted by Susanna Holt.

Swimming on the aft deck.

There was more formal dining that first evening, with a show for entertainment. We relaxed and enjoyed the sights, and caught the sunset off the aft end from the Observation Deck on level 10.

Day 1 sunset, and our engagement.

Oh, and a very special memory, I just couldn’t wait any longer, I proposed on this trip, and she said YES! We have enjoyed life, a growing family, and many other adventures that I have written about, and still plan to write up on So, check them out!

In case you missed it, on Days 2 through 6 we explored the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Glacier Bay, which you can read about in Part 1. Touring the Inside Passage.

Day 7. Back at Sea

On our return day at sea we decided to pay more attention to the details. I had noticed a lot of sculpture throughout the ship, on every level, so we went exploring again to see what was here.

The Art and Sculpture on the Zuiderdam carries a Venetian theme throughout the ship with many unique works by Gilbert Lebigre and Corrine Roger. They include a sculpture series that depicts one of the oldest forms of theater still in existence, known as Italian commedia dell’ arte’. Their sculptural works carry names from Italian comedy figures like, Scaramouche, Mezzetini, and Gilles, …

The Comedia dell arte sculpture by Lebigre & Roger.

… and Balazone, Cortigiana, and Servetta. Each are described as a ‘Comedia dell’ arte’ statue, cast in bronze and modelled in eco deco, by Lebigre & Roger, Italy, 2001. These are just a few, but their are many more by Lebigre & Roger, and other artist.

Our final night included quite a show, featuring all of the theatrical staff …

Last evening entertainment fair wells.

… and even the cooks and servers got in on the action.

Returning to Vancouver British Columbia.

And finally bright and early the next morning we arrive back in Vancouver, docking at Canada Place to disembark. What a wonderful, whirlwind trip, with unforgettable memories.

Days 8 and 9. Vancouver

We spent two more nights in Vancouver, and took a ferry over to Victoria for touring. Another story perhaps, for another day.

An afternoon at Victoria British Columbia.

Travel Notes and Tips

We flew from Huntsville Alabama to Vancouver British Columbia on United Airlines, which had one stop in Denver. The flight was on Friday, and we boarded on Saturday with one night in a hotel. We could have taken an early flight on Saturday and boarded the same day, but that is risky because you never know when there might be a delay along the way. On our return we had a weather delay in Denver and missed our flight home. Had that happened on a Saturday flight to Vancouver, we would have missed the boat; yikes!

Boats roll with the waves and so whether you are prone to motion sickness or not, take something along, just in case. I normally am not sensitive to motion, but I was feeling the effects on the Zuiderdam during our day at sea. We used a time released patch behind our ears that worked great. On our last day we took a ferry out to Victoria Island, and the seas were rough there too.

United Airlines flights from Huntsville to Vancouver and back, and the author.

Notes and References

Story by David Smitherman, and photographs by David Smitherman and Ana Mari Cadilla. Data collected from onsite inscriptions and brochures, Wikipedia, and Google Maps. Tours were made in July 2009, and yes, the exact same tour is still available at this writing in 2024. Cool!

You can see my travel photography on Instagram at davidsmitherman3 and my wife’s art at arte_anita11.

Holland America at:



David Smitherman

Retired architect and space architect from NASA. Married with a growing family. Currently into travel, historical architecture, photography and genealogy.