Holland America’s newest Pinnacle-class ship is bursting at the bulkheads with everything you’d expect from the 148-year old line – excellent food, the friendliest crew at sea, and an impeccable level of service. I was onboard Rotterdam’s inaugural voyage last month and as a bonus, it was also my first time sailing with Holland America. Suffice it to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the whole experience and impressed with this bold and modern new ship, so here are my 10 things you’ll love onboard Rotterdam!
The Lido Pool will be your favorite place to relax, rain or shine – the retractable roof means lousy weather won’t affect your fun. Padded loungers, cozy couches, and daybeds surround the pool and trio of hot tubs providing plenty of places to unwind. Pairs of loungers with sliding curtains between them offer semi-private views of the ocean gliding by. If you’re looking for entertainment, a large screen overlooking the whole space plays movies every afternoon and NFL games on Sundays. There are even ping-pong tables offering competitive game play up on Deck 10. When you get hungry, you’ve got options just steps away. New York Deli & Pizza serves up food all day long including a small breakfast spread and made-to-order deli sandwiches and pizza. Craving a burger, hot dog, fries, chicken sandwich, or portobello stack? You’ve got it all at Dive In, located on the starboard side of the pool. Thirsty? The Lido Bar has you covered. Or try their self-serve beer on tap just around the corner. The gelato bar offers juices and smoothies in the morning and your favorite frozen treat in the afternoon and evenings. Plenty of tables are available to enjoy your meals and snacks poolside. Now do you believe me that you won’t want to leave?
Holland America’s famous Music Walk brings together four venues on Rotterdam showcasing music for every taste. At Lincoln Center Stage, listen to the quartet play chamber music and afternoon recitals. Short solo pieces highlight each player’s musical prowess and unique instrumentation.
In the Rolling Stone Rock Room, tap your toes and nod your head along to the best of four decades of rock and roll. These guys amped up the crowd as they jumped around the stage, head-banging as they played. You could tell the musicians were having just as much fun as the passengers!
At BB King’s Blues Club, get ready to dance along to this energetic and vibrant band late into the night. This group had the whole audience moving and grooving, playing classic oldies and chart-topping favorites with voices that could lure anyone to the dance floor.
And finally, Billboard Onboard. This venue hosts daily trivia and tapas in the afternoons but come night, it morphs into dueling pianos guaranteed to have you singing along.
There was an exceptional amount of talent between all four venues. Bravo to HAL for creating an unparalleled musical experience at sea.
A true standout on Rotterdam was the incredible art. In fact, the ship’s collection is valued at over four million dollars with a wide mix of media represented. This museum at sea is comprised of works by over 90 artists from around the world. You’ll find architecture-themed pieces in the forward stairs, music-themed pieces in the midstairs, and zoology-themed pieces in the aft stairs. Not to mention other eye-catching artworks everywhere around the ship. Make sure to take the time to walk the whole ship to catch it all.
Can you talk about cruising without mentioning the food? Get your money’s worth at all of Rotterdam’s specialty restaurants starting with Pinnacle, the ultimate steakhouse at sea. Serving up steaks, chops, and seafood with large sides to share, make sure to leave room for the extensive wines and decadent desserts. Options include steak tartare, filet mignon, the crowd-pleasing tomahawk ribeye, and chocolate souffle.
Caneletto is your home for Italian classics. Located next to the Lido Market, try the beef carpaccio, grilled calamari, or veal scallopini. Finish with a yummy chocolate hazelnut tart.
Rudy’s Sel De Mer is Holland America’s seafood brasserie offering classic French dishes, reimagined with contemporary flair, on Chef Rudy’s famous food face plates. Enjoy baked escargot or surprise your table mates with the impressive seafood platter.
Tamarind, located on Deck 10, showcases the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. Curries, noodles, duck, lamb, and more are available in this warm and dimly-lit space overlooking the Sea View Pool.
Nami Sushi shares Tamarind’s space, offering edamame, miso soup, sashimi, sushi and more.
Holland America takes the ship’s theater to a whole new level with The World Stage. The walls appear plain at first but then burst into light, transporting and immersing the audience within the theater’s thrust-style seating. The large wraparound LED screens create a perfect panorama at showtime, complementing each production – a dance troupe performance, Q&A with the captain, and most notably, HAL’s signature show, “Origin Story”, a sweeping documentary of Holland America’s history narrated live by the ship’s Cruise and Travel Director.
Grand Dutch Café
This isn’t your average onboard coffee and snacks shop. At The Grand Dutch Café, you’ll find staples like espressos and tea, but the main attractions include dishes of Dutch descent like the made-to-order open-faced herring sandwiches, apple and bacon pancakes, and pea soup. You’ll also find 16 Belgian and Dutch beers plus a variety of spirits. Pastries and afternoon snacks are complimentary to all passengers. The large seating area just off the atrium is decorated entirely in blue and white à la the famous Delft Blue pottery.
Rotterdam’s Library is an impressive bookstore at sea with trendy titles available to borrow throughout your cruise. Genres include Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Young Adult. Seating faces the open ocean so grab a book and relax in the most exceptional library at sea.
A truly unforgettable cruise always includes extraordinary service and Rotterdam’s crew was no exception. Not only was there palpable excitement onboard due to pandemic restrictions easing and cruising being back, but the crew was genuinely happy to serve in any way they could. Adrian, in the Lido Market, knew my name by the second day (I swear I never told him, either!) and was an absolute joy to converse with throughout the sailing. The young woman scooping up gelato was all smiles and giggles even behind her mask, making an otherwise simple exchange a lovely and memorable part of my day. The kindness and warmth radiated out of each member of the crew, creating sincere and authentic relationships with passengers.
Rotterdam is a step up in HAL’s Pinnacle-class design in that it was built to be more intuitive for guests with an efficient flow from venue to venue. As someone who gets easily turned around on cruise ships, I found Rotterdam to be simple to navigate and all venue locations a snap to remember (Although the Crow’s Nest on Deck 12 forward proved to be laughably difficult to locate as some public deck areas were partitioned off for crew use). Even small aspects in the cabins like shelving, storage, lighting, and the placement of shower knobs, etc. have been tweaked to offer a smoother experience for guests. More obvious design elements like the gorgeous main dining room, the bold and bright artworks, carpets, lighting fixtures, and the use of high-tech LED screens in the theater all worked elegantly together to create a modern, sleek, and sophisticated ship.
The contemporary ship design also extends to the well-appointed cabins. Neutral browns, tans, and creams are accented by black geometric prints and houndstooth carpeting. The warm woods give the stateroom an even cozier feel.
The bathroom boasts a glass shower, wall-adorned hand soap and lotion dispensers, a large well-lit mirror but minimal storage. The closet includes several hangers, two plush robes, a full-length mirror, and an umbrella. Back in the main area, both USB charging ports and US plugs can be found at the large desk as well as next to each side of the bed. Out on the balcony are two adjustable lounge chairs and a small table. Overall the cabin was very comfortable and had more than enough storage. I especially liked all the lighting throughout the space and the large verandah.