Rotterdam

Holland America Line

Ship information

Rotterdam

About Rotterdam

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.   

Holland America Line's COVID-19 Rules

For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard Rotterdam, please refer to

Holland America’s health

protocols . You can also

refer to Cruise Critic’s guide to masking requirements

on the world’s major cruise lines as we know them.

Cabins

Rotterdam has 35 cabin types available

Inside Cabins

6 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

6 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

6 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

6 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

6 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

6 Inside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

8 Outside types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

10 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

11 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

12 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Theater and Shows on Rotterdam

Rotterdam’s main theater is the 714-seat World Stage, a state of the art, 270-degree almost-theater-in-the-round, with hi definition LED screens that extend well into the room’s perimeter.

Shows included BBC Earth presentations backed with live classical music from the Lincoln Center Stage players and high decibel productions with pre-recorded contemporary music performed by a troupe of live dancers and, occasionally, live singers.   It was all technically dazzling but after a couple shows, the overall spectacle lost its wow factor by relying too much on digital effects, making one pine for the old fashioned, 3-dimensional stage sets and more organic song and dance stagings of yore. 

Not to be missed by ship lovers and HAL fans is Origin Story, a fascinating and often heartwarming tribute to Holland America’s 150-year history hosted by the Cruise and Travel Director, which was shown on the first night, with an encore performance on the final day at sea.

Daily Things to Do on Rotterdam

Daytime activities run a gamut from classes in the Fitness Center (some free, others not), Pickleball and Basketball sessions on the Sports Court, Card Games, Quizzes and Trivia and various courses in the Greenhouse Spa that, let’s face it, usually end up pitching product or services. 

There are also occasional performances by the excellent classical musicians in the Lincoln Center Stage.  This is all in addition to the available dining options, open deck areas, use of the Library and just stealing away in a quiet corner to regenerate or read.

The Navigator App is, of course, available to those who prefer to go paperless but the ship still offers printed programs, which are delivered to the cabin on the night prior, usually with a chocolate and, on select nights, an artfully crafted towel animal.

Nightlife on Rotterdam

Before the Music Walk venue was first introduced aboard Rotterdam’s Pinnacle Class sister ship, Koningsdam, in 2014, HAL ships were considered low key in the nightlife department.  Evenings used to be all about dinner, perhaps a quiz, a mainstage show and cabaret style performances in either the Piano Bar or Explorer’s Lounge.  After that, a lively few would cap things off in the nightclub.

Of course, the new Rotterdam’s evenings still include quizzes, dinner, cocktail music and the main show, but all of these activities now set the stage for the Music Walk, which has given HAL’s Baby Boomer and Gen X sets a chance to literally get down and boogie to their favorite music, be it Rock, Disco, R&B, Country, Jazz or Pop, performed live.

Located on Deck 2, directly aft of the World Stage, Music Walk is a cluster of venues curated in various partnerships HAL has with Billboard and Rolling Stone magazines, Blues legend B.B. King and the Lincoln Center. 

Billboard on Board has back-to-back pianos and a pair of live singers who perform Billboard magazine pop and country chart hits from the 1950’s to present day. 

Directly across from Billboard on Board is the Rolling Stone Rock Room, where a live band belts out favorite rock hits. 

Just aft of this pair of rooms is the Lincoln Center Stage, where classical recitals (Mozart, Musica Latina, etc.) are performed, mostly in the afternoon or early evening. 

Later, this space, which has a balcony level on Deck 3, becomes the B.B. King’s Blues Club, where Blues, Jazz, R&B and Disco rule the airwaves.  If you are lucky, on your cruise, B.B. King’s will feature singer Chantal Levine, whose voice and charisma easily made her the most popular performer on board, despite some very talented competition.   Without exception, each night, the Music Walk venues filled up in advance, with their standing room only crowds grooving well into the wee hours.  Far more so than the big shows, this was the epicenter of Rotterdam’s energy and excitement factor.

The Casino is located on Deck 3, directly aft of the World Stage.  A spiral staircase in its center connects it with the Music Walk on Deck 2.  The Casino has its own bar area on the starboard side and banks of slots (from penny to $5 machines and video poker) throughout.  There are various tables for Black Jack, Craps, Three Card Poker, Texas Hold ‘Em and Roulette games.  On our European-based cruise, smoking was permitted but on U.S.-based cruises, this is a non-smoking venue.

Rotterdam Ship Bars and Lounges

The bar and drink options on Rotterdam are numerous.  Holland America offers several drink packages that are priced on a duration of cruise, daily rate that is applied to all adults sharing a stateroom.

The Coca Cola Package includes unlimited fountain sodas at $8.00 per person, per day plus a 15 percent service charges for each purchase.

The Quench Package covers all non-alcoholic drinks like juices, energy drinks, bottled water, sodas and coffee and espresso drinks for $17.95 per person plus an 18 percent service charge per day for duration of cruise.

The Signature Beverage Package covers up to 15 beverages priced at $11 or less per day.  Sharing, of course, is not permitted and all guests ordering alcoholic beverages must be over 21.  Pricing is $54.95 per person, per day plus 18 percent service charge.  Does not include alcohol purchased in the signature shops, mini-bar, in-room dining or at Half Moon Cay.

The Elite Drink Package covers all drinks priced at $15 or under, including all covered in the Quench Package.  Pricing is $59.95 per person, per day plus 18% service charge.  Note for Signature and Elite purchases, if a drink costs more than the price limit, the full amount is charged without deducting the price limit allowed per drink.

Our Picks

Rotterdam’s bars each have their own distinct personality and, in many cases, themed bar menus.  Here are a few fun picks.

For Ship Lovers:  Exclusive to Rotterdam and soon to be installed on her sisters, the Half Moon Bar only has five bar stools but stretches aft into the adjoining passage, where window seating offers mesmerizing sea views.  Like the Grand Dutch Cafe, this is another great place for people watching as guests make their way to and from the Dining Room.  The menu here is themed around HAL’s 150-year history.  Since it is named for their most legendary ship, which was built in 1938 and is featured on the HAL logo, why not try the Nieuw Amsterdam, which is basically a Manhattan with its original Dutch name.

For Something Exotic: Head up to Tamarind on aft Deck 10 for stunning views over the stern in black lacquer surrounds that would be right at home on the Bund in Shanghai.  Drinks include the Wasabi (made with Momokawa Silver Sake, Iychee liqueur, lemon, agave syrup and orange juice) and The Far East Legacy (Absolut Mandarin, Asian Pear Sake, St. Germaine Liqueur, Cointreau and peach puree).

For The Soul Singer: Even between its vibrant music sets, B.B. Kings is an elegant space with a large central dance floor and stage, plus a balcony, to boot.  Groove under its spindly chandeliers to a festive Rhythm and Blues (Bulleit Bourbon, Monin Ginger syrup, honey syrup, fresh strawberries, lemon juice and house-made Angostura bitters) 

For The Ultimate View: Arguably with the best views on the ship, with a handsome model of the S.S. Rotterdam of 1959 and paintings by maritime artist Stephen Card of past Rotterdams for bonus points, the Explorer’s Lounge can’t be beat.  Full length windows on three sides from the perspective of Deck 12 make anything here, from the simplest wine by the glass to a mixologist Dale de Groff created specialty, taste sublime.

For A Sip Overlooking the Pool:  By day or night, the Panorama Bar on starboard Deck 10 was the hangout for those who enjoyed the buzz of the Lido Pool directly below, a quick nosh at the New York Deli and Pizza next door and a view of the nightly Movie By The Pool.

Dining

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.