Rotterdam - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)



Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 404 out of 500

Accommodation: 157 out of 200

Food: 267 out of 400

Service: 268 out of 400

Entertainment: 73 out of 100

Cruise: 288 out of 400

Overall Score: 1457 out of 2000

Rotterdam Statistics

Size: Mid-size Ship

Tonnage: 59,855

Lifestyle: Premium

Cruise Line: Holland America Line

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9122552

Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)

Original Cost: $250 million

Entered Service: Dec 1997

Registry: The Netherlands

Length (ft/m): 777.5/237.0

Beam (ft/m): 105.8/32.2

Draft (ft/m): 25.5/7.8

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (37,500kW)/2

Passenger Decks: 12

Total Crew: 600

Passengers (lower beds): 1,404

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 42.6

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3

Cabins (total): 702

Size Range (sq ft/m): 184.0-1,124.8/17.1-104.5

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 192

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 25

Wheelchair accessibility: Best

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 12

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2 (1 w/sliding glass door)

Hot Tubs (on deck): 2

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/235

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: US$


Dutch heritage and decor abound for senior-age cruisers

Overview. This is quite a contemporary ship for Holland America Line (HAL), with light, bright decor. It is extremely comfortable, with elegant decorative features. But these are marred by the poor quality of dining room food and service and a lack of understanding of what it takes to make the ‘luxury’ cruise experience touted in the company’s brochures.

The Ship. This latest Rotterdam, the sixth HAL ship to bear the name, is capable of 25 knots - useful for longer itineraries. It has been built to look like a slightly larger but much sleeker version of the S-class ships, while retaining the graceful lines of its immediate predecessor, including a nicely raked bow and a more rounded exterior. Also retained are the familiar interior flow and design style, and twin-funnel.

Two decks, Promenade Deck and Upper Promenade Deck, house most of the public rooms, and are sandwiched between several accommodation decks. The layout is quite easy to learn, and the signage is good.

The interior decor is restrained, with much use of wood accenting. As a whole, the decor is extremely refined, with much of the traditional ocean liner detailing so loved by frequent HAL passengers. A three-deck-high atrium has an oval, instead of circular, shape. Its focal point is a huge ‘one-of-a-kind’ custom-made clock, based on an antique Flemish original that includes an astrolabe, an astrological clock, and 14 other clocks.

One room has a glass ceiling similar to that aboard a former Statendam. The Ambassador’s Lounge has an interesting brass dance floor, similar to the dance floor that adorned the Ritz-Carlton room aboard the previous Rotterdam.

Instead of just two staircases aboard the S-class ships, Rotterdam has three - better from the viewpoint of safety, passenger accessibility, and evacuation. A pool, on the Lido Deck between the mast and the ship’s twin funnels, is covered by a glass dome.

Popcorn is available at the Wajang Theatre for moviegoers, while adjacent is the popular Java Café. The casino, located in the middle of a major passenger flow, has blackjack, roulette, poker, and dice tables alongside the requisite rows of slot machines.

HAL has a long legacy in Dutch maritime history. The $2 million worth of artwork here consists of a collection of 17th-century Dutch and Japanese artefacts together with contemporary works specially created for the ship, although there seems little linkage between some of the items.

HAL’s Signature of Excellence program has created ‘Mix,’ a new open area with comfortable sofa and armchair seating in small alcove-like setting adjacent to a shopping area. The trendy, upbeat space combines three specialty theme bars: Champagne (serving Champagne and sparkling wines from around the world), Martinis (in individual shakers), and Spirits & Ales (a sports bar with beer, baseball, and basketball). Microsoft Surface touch-screen technology enhances checkers and chess, air hockey, and other sports games.

With one whole deck of suites - and a dedicated, private Concierge Lounge, and preferential passenger treatment - the company has in effect created a two-class ship. Passenger niggles include inadequate room service, poor staff communication, and the charge to use the washing machines and dryers in the self-service launderette - petty and irritating, particularly for the occupants of suites, as they pay high prices for their cruises.

In a 2009 refit, 23 Veranda Deck cabins were converted into ‘Spa Cabins,’ while new lanai-style cabins were created on Lower Promenade Deck.

Families. The ship has allotted more space to children’s and teens’ play areas, although these really are token gestures by a company that traditionally doesn’t cater well to children. However, grandparents do take their grandchildren with them - pleasing parents, who get a well-deserved break. Enhanced children’s programming is brought into play according to the number of children carried.

Accommodation. There are 17 categories, priced by grade, size and location. Accommodation is spread over five decks, and some cabins have full or partially obstructed views. Interestingly, no cabin is more than 144ft (44m) from a stairway, which makes it easier to get from cabins to public rooms. All cabin doors have a bird’s-eye maple look, and hallways have framed fabric panels to make them less clinical. Cabin televisions carry CNN.

All standard inside and outside cabins are tastefully furnished, with twin beds that convert to queen-size, though space is tight for walking between beds and vanity unit. There is a decent amount of closet and drawer space, but this will prove tight for longer voyages.

The fully tiled bathrooms are disappointingly small, particularly for long cruises, and have small shower tubs, utilitarian toiletries cupboards, and exposed under-sink plumbing. There is no detailing to distinguish them significantly from bathrooms aboard the S-class ships.

There are 36 full Veranda Suites on Navigation Deck, including four Penthouse Suites, which share a private Concierge Lounge with a concierge to handle such things as special dining arrangements, shore excursions, and special requests - although strangely there are no butlers for these suites, as aboard many ships with similar facilities. Each suite has a separate steward’s entrance and separate bedroom, dressing and living areas. Suite passengers get personal stationery, complimentary laundry and ironing, cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvres, and other goodies, as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation. The Concierge Lounge, with its latticework teak detailing and private library is accessible only by private key-card.

Disabled passengers have a choice of 20 cabins, including two of the large Penthouse Suites that include concierge services. However, there are different cabin configurations, and it is wise to check with your booking agent.

Dining. The La Fontaine Dining Room seats 747, spans two decks, and has are tables for four, six, or eight, but only nine tables for two. Both open seating and assigned seating are available, while breakfast and lunch are open seating, where you’ll be seated by restaurant staff when you enter. Fine Rosenthal china and good cutlery are provided.

Other dining options. Pinnacle Grill is an extra-cost 88-seat restaurant that is more upscale and more intimate than the main dining room. It also features higher-quality ingredients and better presentation than the main dining room. It is on Promenade Deck and fronts onto the second level of the atrium lobby. Pacific Northwest cuisine is featured, together with an array of premium-quality steaks. There are fine table settings, china and silverware, and leather-bound menus. The wine list consists mostly of American wines. Reservations are required and there’s a cover charge - but the prime steaks are worth it.

For casual meals, the Lido Restaurant is a self-serve buffet venue. A section of this restaurant turns into the Canaletto Restaurant by night, when Italian dishes are featured (reservations are required and a cover charge applies).

Also, a Lido Deck poolside ‘Dive-In at the Terrace Grill’ features signature burgers, hot dogs and fries, and, on certain days, barbecues, and other culinary treats may be featured.

Entertainment. The 577-seat Showroom at Sea is the venue for all production shows, the strongest cabaret, and other entertainment. It is two decks high, with seating on both main and balcony levels. The decor includes umbrella-shaped gold ceiling lamps made from Murano glass (from Venice), and the stage has hydraulic lifts and three video screens, as well as a closed-loop system for the hearing-impaired.

Spa/Fitness. The Ocean Spa is one deck above the navigation bridge at the very forward part of the ship. It includes a gymnasium with all the latest muscle-pumping exercise machines, including an abundance of treadmills, with forward views over the ship’s bows. There’s an aerobics exercise area, large beauty salon with ocean-view windows to the port side, several treatment rooms, and men’s and women’s sauna, steam room, and changing areas.