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“Cruise” review – Rotterdam (V), June 2013


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This may interest those who are booked to sail on the current Rotterdam and want a one-night (or longer) pre-cruise stay, or who are simply in the area and looking for somewhere unusual to stay – I would highly recommend doing this, which would also help to preserve a piece of HAL history for the future.


The current ship’s immediate predecessor in the HAL fleet was the venerable ss Rotterdam (V). After she was retired by HAL, she saw service for a few years with Premier Cruises as ss Rembrandt until that company went out of business. After being laid up for a few years, she was acquired by a group which was determined to preserve her as a working albeit immobile hotel ship, museum and conference facility. Despite some setbacks along the way, they were ultimately successful and she opened in 2010. Last year, in a move which appears to secure her foreseeable future, she was sold to a company which operates a number of other hotels, including another in Rotterdam in what used to be the headquarters of the “Holland-Amerika Lijn”, as it still says on the building itself.


Rotterdam is not a lovely city. So we thought that a one-night stop before a cruise on Rotterdam (VI) would be an excellent reason to stay on board The Grande Dame. Here’s how she looks now:-




The museum aspect of the ship includes having a lot of memorabilia on board. Some of this is exhibited in two big display cases on the Lido deck, including this impressive model of the ship (and to the right you can see an equally impressive tulip vase):-




In the Lido restaurant, there’s a more frivolous model, too:-




On the sunny Friday afternoon that we were there, she attracted a lot of local visitors who made use of the open deck around the aft pool (still in use as a paddling pool). The bar was doing a roaring trade:-




We had dinner in the Club Room, which serves as the more formal restaurant on board. It now has an open kitchen, which made an effort to produce some interesting dishes, although the execution was a little patchy. This gives you an idea of how well restored the room is (as typical of the ship):-




After dinner, there was entertainment on board, including a live band in the Ocean Bar. However, we decided to take an evening stroll around the ship:-



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The next morning, we took a tour of the ship. (Hotel guests get a discount off the public price of this.) There are two parts to the tour: a guided tour of the engine rooms and similar parts in the bowels of the ship; and a self-guided tour of the upper decks, with volunteers on hand in many places to give you narrations and explanations. If time is short, you can do either part on its own.


The guided tour started at the indoor pool, which sadly is no longer in use:-






Then it was through to the engine rooms, which afforded a view of the mighty propeller shafts:-






And you can also get close to the famous control panel where the lower end of the engine telegraphs are situated:-



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Those who have stopped to look at the corridor photos on the current HAL ships may have seen old photos of this control panel, and also of some of the public rooms which we went to next.


Here are some of the public rooms that can be visited on the tour. The second photo is of the ballroom, which was being prepared for a wedding due to take place later that day. We were assured that the ship is one of the most popular places in Rotterdam to get married!








Then on to some more working parts of the ship:-





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Also, a glimpse into the captain’s sitting room and bedroom:-






Sadly, although we would have loved to have continued looking around, it was time to go to our next ship, which we could see in the distance:-




And then it was time to say goodbye:-



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One practical thing to mention: When we stayed, long-term parking for those sailing on Rotterdam (VI) was this hotel’s car park, with a free shuttle bus laid on that departed from the hotel entrance. The bus was very happy also to take us from the hotel to the ship, which made the process of getting there very easy indeed.



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Thank you so much for the photos of my beloved ss Rotterdam V. I was on her final cruise, and the last passenger to ever leave the Tropic Bar (many fun hours spent in there). You have a picture of the back entrance in one of the Ritz Carleton room photos.

Looking over these pictures has been a joy. Hope your cruise was great.

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I'm so glad you like the photos and that they've brought back good memories! And I think it's great that we can still stay on board her and see her wonderful interiors.


And thank you also for the welcome back. Our actual cruise was fantastic. We had 14 days of almost continuous good weather, which was like winning the lottery given that we headed to northern Norway in mid-June. And it was made much better by a visit from the upsell fairy, who moved us from a Lanai into a Neptune Suite. You know you've been spoilt rotten when you start to think that an aft VA is a bit of a disappointment - I have to get out of that mindset.

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