Rotterdam: A Ship for the Senses

by Janean Flowe
View of Holland America's Rotterdam ship with European mountains in the background
Savor the sights, sounds and flavors aboard Holland America’s Rotterdam.

By Katie McElveen

COVID-19 may have put cruising on a temporary hold, but that doesn’t mean the industry isn’t moving forward. Case in point is Holland America’s newest ship, the 2,668-guest Rotterdam, which will make its premiere voyage from Trieste to Civitavecchia (Rome) in August of 2021. After spending the summer cruising northern Europe, the ship will winter in the Caribbean.

Named for the Netherlands’ city where Holland America was founded in 1873, Rotterdam follows Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam as the company’s third Pinnacle Class vessel and seventh to carry the Rotterdam name. “While Rotterdam will continue the tradition of its predecessors and the Pinnacle-class ships, guests will discover updates like wider hallways, more open space and a softer color scheme,” says Erik Elvejord, Holland America Line’s director of public relations. “The vibe is cool, but at the same time, the ship maintains the traditions of Holland America.”



World Stage Show onboard Holland America ship


Lyrical Touches

One of those traditions is the celebration of music, which Rotterdam expands with an enhanced Music Walk, the line’s collection of live performance experiences. Aboard Rotterdam, guests can begin or end their evening at their choice of five venues: the new Rolling Stone Rock Room, where musicians trace the lively history of rock and roll; Lincoln Center Stage, which will give classical music lovers a dose of their favorite composers during afternoon recitals and evening performances; the BB King Blues Club, where passengers can dance to horn-inflected Memphis-style R&B; the dueling pianos of Billboard Onboard and World Stage, a technological marvel that combines music, song, dance and comedy. Rounding out the entertainment options are the interactive travel resources available at Explorations Central; fascinating multi-media presentations with world-class experts in art, music, culture and history; Port to Table classes and tastings featuring local delicacies and, finally, a special selection of culinary excursions created in partnership with Food & Wine magazine. Of course, there’s also a pampering spa, two pools and an expansive fitness center.

As on the other Pinnacle Class ships, Holland America engaged acclaimed hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and Bjorn Storbraaten, one of the world’s leading architects working in the cruise industry, to bring music — and many of the Rotterdam’s destinations — alive through architecture and design. For instance, within the main dining room, oversized white ribs, which symbolize harp strings, rise dramatically from floor to ceiling, bowing gracefully as they stretch between Tihany-designed chandeliers hung with orbs in shades of blue and gold. At the Grand Dutch Cafe, the blue and white color scheme takes its cues from the country’s beloved Delft tiles. Behind the bar, a series of cutouts echo the shape of Amsterdam’s iconic rooflines.


Verandah guest cabin onboard Holland America's Rotterdam cruise ship

Verandah guest cabin


Art and Luxury

Spiraling through multiple levels of the ship, Rotterdam’s atrium sculpture represents a deconstructed musical instrument and serves as the centerpiece for the vessel’s extensive art collection. “Art has always been an important component across the Holland America Line fleet,” says Elvejord. “Rotterdam’s collection includes many museum-quality antiques, as well as contemporary art by recognized artists from around the world. In all, more than 2,500 photographs, paintings, mixed media works, illustrations, prints and sculptures valued at about $4 million are planned.”

You can also feel that updated approach in staterooms, which are done up in cool neutrals with touches of navy, green and black. Responding to the needs of guests, Rotterdam, offers a wide array of staterooms and suites. They range from devoted singles and compact inside berths to larger family cabins that sleep five and offer a second shower and sink. In all, the ship offers more than a dozen lodging options. The largest, the nearly 1,300 square foot Pinnacle Suite, has a king-sized bed, powder room and a private verandah set with a whirlpool. Creature comforts like Elemis bath products, massaging showerheads and pillow-top mattresses make even the most efficient spaces feel luxurious. Guests in upper-level suites will discover thoughtful extras like in-room binoculars, double sinks in the bathrooms and whirlpool tubs. Additional perks for guests booking Neptune and Pinnacle-level include Club Orange benefits like priority boarding and disembarkation and access to the club’s lounge as well as access to a new, larger Neptune Lounge, an exclusive space where snacks are served and a private concierge is on hand to book restaurant and spa reservations.

food preparation in the kitchen of the Rotterdam cruise shipCulinary Delights

Dining options abound on Rotterdam — there are 13 restaurants on board —and run the gamut from hot dogs to haute cuisine. In a nod to tradition, the dining room will continue to offer two dinner seatings each evening. Guests seeking to dine on their own time can do so within a section of the dining room reserved for just that purpose. Beyond its hallmark classic cuisine, the dining room offers full, multicourse vegetarian and vegan menus that include creamy vegan soups, creative spins on bruschetta and flavorful stir-fried dishes. Vegans and vegetarians will also find happiness in the form of house-made pastas and risottos studded with grilled veggies at Canaletto, the ship’s Italian restaurant.

Another option is to explore the culinary world aboard the ship. French bistro fare is the order of the day at Rudi’s Sel de Mer, where dishes like duck a l’orange, bouillabaisse and, of course, perfectly aged French cheese, bring Paris to the high seas. Wok-seared lobster, Mongolian barbecue lamb chops and crispy duck with ginger-chili glaze are just some of the ways Tamarind explores the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, China and Japan. A separate sushi bar highlights the artistry of Master Sushi Chef Andy Matsuda’s innovative recipes. Pinnacle Grill may be the ultimate steakhouse at sea — American classics like dry-aged Delmonico steak and Jacques Torres’ dark chocolate souffle are worthy indulgences — but on select European journeys the elegant space will for one night, become De Librije, Holland America Line’s Culinary Council member Jonnie Boer’s three Michelin-starred restaurant. There’s also 24-hour room service. In the COVID era, self-service dining will take a new form as guests order from stations and have food delivered by staff members.

“Despite its fresh, modern ambience, Rotterdam is, at its heart, a Holland America ship,” says Elvejord. “For returning guests, it will still feel like home.”

When you’re ready to sail again, your AAA Travel Agent can help! Call 800-750-5386 or visit

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