Courtesy of the cruise line
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Courtesy of the cruise line
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Courtesy of the cruise line
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Rotterdam

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Since October 2021, there has been a new ship named Rotterdam cruising the Caribbean and Europe. The latest vessel in the Holland America Line fleet is not only the third in its popular Pinnacle Class (joining 2016's Koningsdam and 2018's Nieuw Statendam), but it's also the seventh ship to bear the name "Rotterdam" in the cruise line's nearly 150-year history.

Like her Pinnacle Class siblings, the 2,668-passenger Rotterdam features a fresh, modern aesthetic with well-designed pool areas (The Lido Pool, with a retractable roof and three hot tubs, along with the aft adults-only Seaview Pool), a well-stocked library, and a wraparound promenade. Meanwhile, new features include a novel lounge concept, Half Moon Bar, an experiential space serving seven exclusive cocktails with a backstory tied to the cruise line's past, plus wine and beer. Most staterooms are ocean-facing, and those in the Verandah category span approximately 240 to 405 square feet, including the balcony. The overall feel of Rotterdam pays homage to Holland America's storied nautical heritage (there are artifacts from Rotterdam VI onboard), yet it also continues the line's evolution by offering a more modern approach to cruising centered around an array of live musical entertainment, 

What We Love

The Sleek, Contemporary Ambiance: While Holland America cultivated its loyal passenger base (generally retirees seeking longer sailings) with smaller, cozier,  and more traditional ships known for global itineraries, the transition to a sleeker, more contemporary design on its Pinnacle Class vessels has been welcomed by guests. There's a soothing lightness to most spaces — with just enough unexpected pops of color to keep things interesting.

Music Walk: While it's possible to stroll through Music Walk — a series of spaces on the Plaza Deck dedicated to live music across multiple genres — most passengers end up finding a chair, ordering a drink, and staying for a while. Comprised of B.B. King's Blues Club, The Rolling Stone Rock Room, Lincoln Center Stage, and Billboard Onboard, Music Walk features a rotating schedule of blues, classical, pop, and vintage rock performances. It's especially popular during pre- and post-dinner periods.

The World Stage: Featuring an immersive two-story, 270-degree LED wraparound screen, Rotterdam's World Stage theater is the setting for musical shows, as well as the cruise line's BBC Earth in Concert series, featuring stunning nature-focused BBC Earth footage plus live musicians who provide the score.

Best Known For

Consistent Culinary Offerings: Holland America’s dining program is overseen by a Culinary Council of seven leading top chefs — including David Burke, Jacques Torres, Ethan Stowell, and Jonnie Boer — and its onboard eateries offer terrific quality and consistency. Rotterdam’s specialty restaurants are the same as its Pinnacle Class siblings with flavorful Pan-Asian in Tamarind (and sushi in Nami Sushi), steakhouse favorites in Pinnacle Grill, elevated seafood with a whimsical touch in Rudi’s Sel de Mer, and Italian classics in Canaletto. The line’s flagship dining experience, The Main Dining Room, features a dramatically sweeping space designed by Adam Tihany, where passengers can enjoy a multicourse menu that rotates nightly. 

An Impressive Art Collection: Holland America ships have always featured extensive onboard art collections, but Pinnacle Class ships showcase more vibrant contemporary pieces (think: paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works). Rotterdam’s public spaces are accented by 2,645 striking creations, many of which are inspired by music, architecture, and zoology. The collection is valued at over $4.1 million, and there are artists from 37 countries represented.

Who It's Best For

Couples and Some Multigenerational Families: Holland America knows its loyal audience (which, for the most part, consists of couples age 55 and older), and its ships are designed for that demographic. During the summer and holiday seasons, the cruise line also attracts multigenerational family groups — parents and grown children or grandparents with children and grandchildren — who are destination-focused rather than seeking thrill-based onboard activities. 

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

More than Half the Dining Options Cost Extra: Rotterdam passengers can dine on high-quality food at no additional cost at five of the ship's 11 dining venues: The Dining Room, Lido Market buffet, Dive-In poolside grill, and New York Deli & Pizza, plus 24-hour room service and Grand Dutch Café (although beverages here cost extra). However, specialty dining, such as Tamarind and Rudi's Sel de Mer, will incur an added upcharge: all in the $19 to $49 per person range, plus an 18% gratuity — and that's excluding beverages. 

Some Tweens & Teens Might Get Bored: Although Rotterdam is a big ship, Holland America's core market is mature cruisers, which means it doesn't have the waterslides, surf simulators, laser tag, and virtual-reality arcades that are big draws for many families. There is Club HAL — an activities program for kids ages three to 17 that organizes arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, sports and video game competitions, and theme parties — but are there big thrills? No.

Donna Heiderstadt
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger