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Holland America Rotterdam Review

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Editor Rating
Very Good
Peter Knego

At a nice mid-size, Holland America’s 2,668-guest Rotterdam debuted in 2021 as a model of elegant and thoughtful design geared for cruisers of all ages and walks of life.

The ship’s public areas are infused with abundant light through full length windows and boast quality furnishings and fittings that are inviting, practical and comfortable, without being overtly edgy or pretentious.  Fresh flowers and a $4.1 million art collection that is a festive and eclectic combination of musical, natural and architectural elements add warmth and color to the ship’s soothing, mid-toned backdrops.

Traditional cruise fans will appreciate the new flagship’s spectacular Explorer’s Central/Crow’s Nest observation lounge, a well-stocked library, the Lincoln Center Stage part time classical music venue and a main dining room designed by star-chitect Adam Tihany that has an ambiance and scale recalling the grand ocean liners of yesteryear.

Meanwhile, more contemporary cruisers will gravitate to dazzling shows in the high tech 270-degree World Stage theater, party into the wee hours at the lively Music Walk entertainment complex, work out and regenerate in a state of the art gym and spa area and choose from an impressive array of bars and included, as well as extra tariff, specialty dining venues.

Rotterdam’s Deck Plan Features Public Areas at the Top and Bottom

Like most new ships, Rotterdam is laid out with public areas concentrated at the top and bottom of the ship, with decks of accommodations sandwiched between.  Excluding embarkation day, when several elevators are set aside for loading luggage, the overall flow between decks is excellent, with three main stair towers and three banks of four elevators, which, in HAL tradition, have floor mats imprinted with the day of the week.

Much of what you need for daily life onboard is located at the top of the ship between Decks 9 and 14. Highlights include the sliding glass dome-enclosed Lido Pool area, which also has a giant LED screen; the Explorer’s Central and Cafe/Crow’s Nest, which serves as a combination observation lounge, coffee and liquor bar, shore excursions office and card/games room. Popular restaurants such as the New York Deli and Pizza eatery, the Dive-In burger eatery, the Lido Market buffet and Canaletto Italian eateries are also here. There's also the aft open air SeaView Pool and Bar, where smoking is permitted. Overall, the flow here is good but can be a little challenging when crossing from one side to the other with access blocked on the right side of Deck 11 for crew.

The top level of the double deck World Stage theater begins a line-up of public areas on Deck 3 that includes a full wraparound promenade, which was enjoyed immensely on sea days and before and after dinner, weather permitting.  Down on Deck 2, don't miss the well-stocked library, a well-received area that will be retrofitted on sister ships Nieuw Statendam and Koningsdam.

And finally, the Music Walk entertainment complex has revolutionized Holland America ships. Those seeking music at night have a wealth of choices, from the dueling pianos at Billboard Live to the Rolling Stone Rock Room to B.B. King’s/The Lincoln Center, which serves as both a classical and Blues/R&B venue. The timing of performances and sound proof doors helped to cut down potentially conflicting noise issues in this part of the ship.

Even in the lower parts of the ship, there are fantastic views from nearly all the entertainment and dining areas via floor-to-ceiling windows..

Rotterdam’s Cabins Range from Capacious Suites to Comfortable Interiors

Rotterdam has nine overall suite and stateroom categories, running the gamut from the sprawling Pinnacle Suite to economical interiors and compact singles. Decks 8 through 4 are devoted to accommodations, including the Neptune concierge lounge for top suite guests on Deck 7.  And, finally, Deck 1 is devoted to Ocean View and Interior staterooms

The most popular cabins are 748 Verandah Staterooms, which, depending on location, can range from 228- to 420-square-feet.  The balconies are wide enough to comfortably seat two and in some parts of the ship, at points where the superstructure buttresses outward around the lifeboat recesses, are much larger.

Cabins to avoid would be at the very top and forward part of the ship for those with motion sickness issues and cabins in the forward to midships portion of Deck 1 to avoid noise from late night performances in the Music Walk, which is directly above.  Also, as noted on the deck plan, VH Category Verandah Staterooms on Deck 4 have views that are obstructed by the lifeboats.

Rotterdam’s Food Choices Are Varied, Plentiful and Delicious

In recent years, HAL has earned a well-deserved reputation for offering some of the best and most varied food at sea. Rotterdam’s included dining options run the scope from the casual ambiance and excellent views at the Lido Market (with service stations such as a salad bar, pasta, hot entrées, sandwiches, Asian and desserts) to the New York Deli and Pizza overlooking the Lido Pool, Dive-In (great burger fare by the Lido Pool), complimentary Dutch-themed snacks at the Grand Dutch Cafe and the visually spectacular but sometimes hectic Dining Room.

Extra fee dining on Rotterdam includes Tamarind, which is quite possibly the best pan-Asian eatery afloat. But you can also choose the excellent Pinnacle Grll steakhouse or the upscale Rudi’s Sel De Mer, a French seafood bistro with a twist). Canaletto is a more casual Italian option.  An additional plus is that room service is complimentary (unless ordering specific a la carte priced items), with courses delivered punctually and, when applicable, piping hot.


Included with your cruise fare:

  • * Meals in the main dining room and Lido Market buffet, as well as at New York Pizza & Deli, Dive-in Burgers and Grand Dutch Cafe; also 24-hour room service

  • Water, basic coffee, tea, and select juices in the Lido Marketplace buffet

  • All theater shows, and musical performances at Billboard Onboard, B.B. King’s Blues Club and Lincoln Center Stage

  • Use of the fitness center and sports facilities, excluding most classes

  • Most daily activities unless noted otherwise

  • Club HAL kids facility and programming for kids, ages 3 to 17

  • In-room movies-on-demand

  • Pinnacle Grill breakfast and Neptune Lounge access for passengers staying in Neptune Suites only

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • * Crew gratuities (amount varies by room)

  • Specialty dining in Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, Canaletto or Rudi’s Sel de Mer

  • Beverages outside of water, tea, coffee and select juices in the Lido Marketplace

  • Auto-gratuities of 15 percent on beverage purchases and 18 percent for Greenhouse Spa services

  • Spa and salon treatments and services

  • Most fitness classes

  • Use of the Thermal Suite at the Greenhouse Spa

  • Shore excursions

  • Wi-Fi

  • Activities such as bingo, beer, wine and spirits tasting events

  • Photos and art gallery purchases

Fellow Passengers

Although the ship accommodates all ages, Rotterdam’s guests largely tend to be of the Baby Boomer and early Generation X age groups, averaging between 55 and 65 years.  On our Amsterdam-based cruises, 65 to 70% of guests were from Holland and Belgium, although announcements remained in English first, then Dutch.  The ship welcomes people from all walks of life and provides specific gatherings for LGBTQ, Single and AA guests.

Twelve lifts provide access to all passenger deck areas, ramps and doorways are designed to accommodate wheelchairs and there are 40 wheelchair accessible staterooms in varying categories.

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