This repositioning cruise of the Rotterdam from Florida to Europe was really good fun, and was a great reminder of what North Atlantic crossings used to be, back in the days of the grand old liners. Of course it was 8 days across, and of course the seas were rough and the winds blew hard enough to close the outside decks at times, but THAT is what crossings were always like, back before affordable jet travel.
The Rotterdam was in great shape - the entire exterior looked freshly painted. The big video screen and the pizza bar aft on the Lido Deck are pretty much wasted (too cold and windy) on the North Atlantic, but everything else about the ship worked well for passengers on this atypical cruise itinerary.
The service staff on this voyage seemed less fluent in speaking and understanding English than is usual for HAL ships. The moderately-keyed, not-Mr.-Hollywood, Dutch Cruise Director, Glenn, was a wonderful change from some of the other HAL cruise directors (who always seem to be pushing their Showbiz personalities). Several of the entertainers and the cruise lecturer were sub-par. Everything else - food, service, ship management, etc. - was of HAL's usual high quality. And most of the shore excursions, while typically over-priced, were excellent.
We give a strong Thumbs Down to HAL's allowing Day Trip locals on board the ship whenever the Rotterdam was docked in a port. As passengers who are given to believe that ship and passenger security is an HAL top priority, we resented the swarming locals, prowling around the ship unattended, while we were either trying to enjoy a quiet day aboard in port or were off the ship on tours. We don't care what HAL's Marketing Dept. wants from these locals - Day Visitors aboard ships should be prohibited!
We give a huge Thumbs Up to HAL's experiment this summer with more Transatlantic crossings, and with more use of Netherlands ports. Holland America should go to Holland much more often!