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Holland America Rotterdam Dining

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
49 reviews
Editor Rating
4.5
Very Good
Dining
Peter Knego
Cruise Critic Contributor

Overall, there is a great variety of food on Rotterdam, although many of the best options are not included in the fare. Including the Grand Dutch café -- the go-to for specialty coffees and Dutch-themed food -- Rotterdam has ten restaurants and eateries to choose from, four of which are for fee.  The included Dining Room offers both fixed and open seating with varying food quality while room service is among the best available and complimentary, to boot.

Free Restaurants on Rotterdam

Dining Room
Located at the aft end of the ship and arguably one of the most elegant spaces at sea with its ribbed, double height ceiling boasting a network of colorful glass ceiling fixtures, the Adam Tihany-designed Dining Room was mostly a hit. 

For those yearning a delicious sea view, there are plenty of window seats along the starboard and aft portions of the room, although the port side is blocked by the galley.  Breakfast and dinner are served daily and on sea days, lunch is available.  Fixed dining is offered twice per evening (times vary according to itinerary) with As You Wish available for those who prefer open seating. 

Service in the Dining Room was usually excellent but at times of high congestion, less so.  The menu offers a choice of five or six starters (salads, soups and appetizers) and mains (with fish, vegetarian, non-dairy and gluten free options) and five desserts.  Accompanying espresso drinks are now extra ($3.50 for a cappuccino) and there is an “indulge” section with items like lobster and prime rib available for a surcharge.  I was surprised to find breads only available upon request at lunch and just the most basic of rolls (think Pilsbury) at dinner.  All menus have non-dairy, gluten free, vegetarian and sugar free selections.

Tea, with a nice selection of finger sandwiches and sweets, was served daily in the Dining Room between 3:00 and 4:00 PM.  Definitely get there early if you want a private table — the line usually begins around 2:45.  Due to staffing shortages, service varied during our visits, from prompt to taking up to 25 minutes before the first cup of tea was actually poured.

Lido Buffet
I felt guilty asking the server at the salad bar for “more” of everything in the Lido, but the overall fare there was fresh, well varied and delicious.  Lido favorites are the Distant Lands counter with its Asian selections and the pasta station, where guests can choose the fresh ingredients in their pasta sauces.  There is also a sandwich deli, a carvery and desserts section.  Traffic flow here can get congested during peak hours, so we often took our plates to the “closed” side to enjoy a little more breathing room.

New York Deli and Pizza
We found the staff at New York Deli and Pizza to be among the most cheerful on the ship.  Instead of getting a warmed slice, I heartily recommend ordering a fresh pizza — they’re small — and waiting the extra few minutes.  The salads are great and the sandwiches are made-to-order and feature delicious, freshly baked breads.  Here and in Dive-In, guests place their orders and are provided with a buzzer that will let them know when their order is ready.  New York Deli and Pizza was also a favorite pit stop for complimentary, fresh-popped popcorn on evenings when we wanted to catch the movie by the pool. 

Dive In
While Dive-In is mainly burger fare, the freshly baked brioche buns are spectacular, the ingredients are very fresh and, for vegetarians, there are even Beyond Burger options.

Club Orange
Guests in Pinnacle and Neptune Suites (and those willing to pay for the Club Orange package, which is $35 per person, per day for duration of cruise) have complimentary access to Club Orange, which has the same menu as the Dining Room, plus a daily special.  Club Orange occupies what was originally the Test Kitchen on aft Deck 2 on sister ships Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam and has a low key vibe with subdued lighting, better breads and more dedicated, less rushed service than the Main Dining Room.   

Grand Dutch Café
Despite the tantalizing views from Explorations Cafe, the espresso drinks in the Grand Dutch Cafe seemed to be even tastier, or as the Dutch would say, “meer lekker”.  Overlooking the atrium and festooned in Delft-tile inspired blue and white with classic “Dutch House” facades as a backdrop, the Grand Dutch has tabletops boasting charming prow-shaped flower vases.  This became our ritual morning hangout with its huge bran muffins and delicious yogurt parfaits made with fresh berries and Greek yogurt to accompany our cappuccinos.  Served in Delft cups atop silver trays with a Dutch speculaas cookie and chilled water in a small but artful glass, the cappuccinos and other espresso drinks (also available with soy or almond milk) here can’t be beat. 

Throughout the day and evening, for those with a penchant for Dutch treats, there are complimentary offerings like pea soup with bacon, as well as sweet and savory waffle dishes that proved especially popular on our recent back-to-back cruises from Amsterdam.

Room Service
We could set our watches by the punctual and friendly room service and delighted in the regular breakfast options like piping hot goat cheese frittatas (served atop a hot plate).  Unlike most ships, even the included coffee is good and there are no delivery charges.

What Restaurants Cost Extra on Rotterdam

Tamarind, $$$: 
Frankly, we could have eaten at Tamarind every night on both cruises and still not gotten enough of its authentic pan-Asian food, ambiance and doting service.  This restaurant is exclusive to the Signature and Pinnacle Class ships in the HAL fleet and should be expanded to the Vista Class.  The views here are breathtaking, overlooking the aft pool and ship’s wake from Deck 10. Favorites are crispy Shiitake and Tofu Spring Rolls, Tom Kha Kai (chicken coconut soup) and Panang Red Curry Coconut Chicken (which is spiced to preference — we asked for extra spicy and were impressed that it actually was!) and Mongolian Barbecue Lamb Chops.  Sides include Asian eggplant (one serving is just not enough, so order two if you are “over the moon” for aubergines), Dungeness crab fried rice and so much more.

The Pinnacle Grill, $$$: 
Directly off the atrium on port Deck 2, the Pinnacle Grill is one of the most popular eateries in the HAL fleet, offering up steakhouse favorites, from starters like Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and David Burke’s Clothesline Candied Bacon to mains like Petite Filet Mignon, New York Strip and Boneless Rib Eye (and for an extra $40, the massive Tomahawk Bone-In Rib Eye — think the one from the Flintstones’ drive-in that tips the car over).  There is an Heirloom Tomato and Eggplant Tarte Tatin, Lobster, a choice of fish entrées and a Jidori Chicken Breast for those seeking more than just turf on their plate.  Chef Jacques Torres chocolate souffle headlines a selection of decadent desserts here. 

Rudi’s Sel De Mer, $$$: 
Sharing a galley with the Pinnacle on Deck 2, Rudi’s Sel De Mer features a menu and charger plates designed by Holland America’s executive chef Rudi Sodamin that are adorned with “food faces” to set the stage for a fanciful dining event.  Meals here begin with delicious baguettes served with a choice of butter, tapenades and other spreads, the Hot Smoked Salmon starter (served under a dome that when whisked away, unleashes a cloud of smoke that would make Lily Munster swoon), Rack of Lamb, Duck A L’Orange, Whole Lobster and various seafood entrées, including a spectacular Whole Dover Sole Meuniere that is de-boned tableside.  Desserts are equally indulgent and include Crepes Suzette, a rich Apple Tarte Tatin and so much more.  Allow at least two hours in both the Pinnacle and Rudi’s — these are not the “go-tos” for a quick bite before the show.

Canaletto, $$: 
This Italian eatery is tucked away in the forward starboard corner of the Lido and offers up a selection of favorites, from an antipasto plate to a huge bowl of Minestrone, Lasagna Bolognese, Branzino Alla Siciilana, an authentic Pasta Genovese with basil pesto and desserts like Tiramisu and a selection of creamy gelati.

Cruise Critic Restaurant Picks on Rotterdam

The ultimate romantic dining experience is Tamarind, especially if you can get a table for two overlooking the pool area.  Rudi’s is probably the most popular eatery and is as much about the setting and epic food presentation as it is about the richly delicious options.  For those looking for a quick and complimentary nosh alternate, the Grand Dutch Cafe is also a great place to people watch due to its highly trafficked central location on the ship.

Dietary Restrictions on Rotterdam

Menus in all restaurants have non-dairy, gluten free, vegetarian and sugar free selections.

In the Dining Room, a separate vegetarian menu is available upon request and can be hit and miss with items like a dull Roasted and Raw Carrot Salad that was more than compensated for with an absolutely delicious Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry entrée.  Gluten free and Kosher menus are available but need to be arranged in advance of the cruise and an Indian menu can be requested the night prior, just to give the chef time to prepare.

Find a Holland America Rotterdam Cruise from $399

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