Though crowded at breakfast, Vendam’s buffet restaurant offered a satisfying range of food.
Offering a typical Holland America buffet layout, the Lido Restaurant is located on Deck 11, behind the pool area, with two nearly-identical serving lines running down the middle of the ship; seating areas are found along the windows facing the view, with live potted orchids on each table. At breakfast, and during lunch on sea days, the venue was fairly crowded, and locating an empty table took some effort.
In keeping with Holland America’s standard policy, during the first two days of our cruise, crewmembers served guest plates at the buffet, a system designed to minimize spread of communicable diseases. And in addition to the usual liquid hand sanitizers stationed at the entrances to the Lido, there were automated hand-washing stations that got a fair amount of use. The only problem was that, at peaks hours, the tile floor beneath these stations was wet from still-dripping hands. But we found these to be a smart addition to the ship (and not common on other ships we’ve been on).
The Lido Restaurant did not have as large a spread as some ships, but the variety and quality was better than average. The busy breakfast operation offered a good range of standards, including various pastries, sticky buns, and breads (toasted on request) with a half-dozen packaged preserves to choose from, such as red raspberry, strawberry, apricot, orange marmalade. There was fresh sliced fruit, fruit salad and whole fruits (plums!)—all ripe and tasty. Yogurts, about 10 packaged cereals, muesli and oatmeal were available, along with smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers and sliced red onion.
From the griddle there was blueberry pancakes, French toast and waffles topped with whipped cream and stewed fruits. Poached egg dishes included eggs benedict and variations—Florentine, Scottish, Massina, Stanley crab and Italian—along with traditional Omelet station, with assorted meats and veggies, or an omelet of the day.
At lunch we enjoyed the sandwich bar, which had daily suggestions such as a Thai chicken wrap, grilled Ruben, Cobb salad wrap. The salad bar also featured prepared salads such as citrus chicken salad, Waldorf, minted Orzo and zucchini and tuna salade Niçoise, etc. There were two soups daily, including such options as cannellini and lentil, cream of broccoli, barley and mushroom, and a miro shiru one afternoon. At the pasta bar we found a daily baked pasta such as lasagna or stuffed manicotti along with various noodles and sauces, including pesto, pinenuts and sun-dried tomatoes, pomodoro and Alfredo; four different pizzas were available by the slice. In addition to a carving station (baked ham, rotisserie chicken, meatloaf), entrées available at lunch included pan-seared salmon, country-style buttermilk chicken, cilantro and mint-crusted tilapia, and baked beet enchilada. Asian items were a regular feature and included such fare as chicken korma, Indonesian tofu and tempeh curry.
There was a dessert station with an ice cream bar (soft serve and scooped). There was a daily fruit pie, mousse, and cheese cake, along with cookies, brownies, fruit tarts, cream puffs, etc.; sugar-free desserts were also available daily.
Dinner was much less crowded, but still casual and offered a similar (but different) spread as we found at lunch.
The self-service beverage stations were stocked with coffee, tea, iced tea and lemonade. Other drinks could be ordered from the nearby Lido Bar. At breakfast there was delicious fresh squeezed orange juice available, along with grapefruit, apple, cranberry, pineapple, grape, prune, tomato and V-8.
The Lido Restaurant was open for breakfast daily from 7 to 10:30 a.m., with a continental selection available for an additional 30 minutes on either side. Lunch was available from 11:30 a.m, to 2 p.m., with a deli, soup and salad bar available from 2 to 5 p.m. Dinner was offered 5:30 to 8 p.m., with a themed late night snack available most nights from 11 p.m. to midnight.