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Holland America Line: Rotterdam

Rotterdam Review

Named for the Dutch city and the standard bearer of the Holland America Line fleet, Rotterdam was launched in 1997 and received the line’s latest Signature of Excellence enhancements in December 2009. Onboard, the art collection includes exact replicas of the huge

clay army discovered buried in Xian, China, as well as a collection of clocks and timepieces, contemporary art by recognized artists, and antiques that represent Holland America Line’s seafaring heritage.

The most traditional ships in the fleet, the interiors of sister ships Amsterdam and Rotterdam display abundant wood appointments in the public areas on promenade and lower promenade decks and priceless works of art throughout.

The Ocean Bar, Explorer's Lounge, Wajang Theater, and Crow's Nest are familiar lounges to longtime Holland American passengers. Newer additions include the spa's thermal suite, a culinary-arts demonstration center in the theater, Explorations Café, and expansive areas for children and teens. Multimillion-dollar collections of art and artifacts are showcased throughout both vessels. In addition to works commissioned specifically for each ship, Holland America Line celebrates its heritage by featuring antiques and artworks that reflect the theme of worldwide Dutch seafaring history.

Holland America Line has enjoyed a distinguished record of traditional cruises, world exploration, and transatlantic crossings since 1873—all facets of its history that are reflected in the fleet's multimillion-dollar shipboard art and antiques collections. Even the ships' names follow a pattern set long ago: all end in the suffix dam and are either derived from the names of various dams that cross Holland's rivers, important Dutch landmarks, or points of the compass. The names are even recycled when vessels are retired, and some are in their fifth and sixth generation of use.

Noted for focusing on passenger comfort, Holland America Line cruises are classic in design and style, and with an infusion of younger adults and families on board, they remain refined without being stuffy or stodgy. Following a basic design theme, returning passengers feel as at home on the newest Holland America vessels as they do on older ones.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • Rotterdamhas the Retreat, a resort-style pool on the aft Lido deck
  • As the line’s flagships,RotterdamandAmsterdamhave the fleet’s most elegant interior decor
  • Realistic landscapes with surreal touches accent walls inAmsterdam’s Pinnacle Grill

Cons

  • One-way window glass in outside cabins on lower promenade deck does not offer occupants complete privacy
  • There is little shipboard nightlife more than an hour after dinner
  • Despite excellent facilities designed for kids and teens, family cabins are limited
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 600
  • Entered Service 1997
  • Gross Tons 61,859/62,735
  • Length 780 feet
  • Number of Cabins 702
  • Passenger Capacity 1,404
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Feb 3, 2013

Rotterdam-Canary Islands

What would you do if your cruise line lost your bag between their transit bus from the airport to the ship? If it`s Holland America, get used to disposable underwear, borrowed shorts and a complimentary overnight kit. If you`re missing medicine, know that it`s your responsibility to keep it on your person. To be safe, with Holland America, you may want to keep your bags with you on the bus and move them to your stateroom yourself. That will

at least assure that you have clothes for the voyage. But Holland America will get the lost bag to you right? Well, no. They said that they couldn`t find a courier to deliver the bag. I asked about one of their employees flying it down, someone flying up and back, having the airline fly the bag.......nothing was possible. Besides, Holland America employees had holidays and weren`t available. I wondered why my holidays were so less important. Once it was clear that Holland America wouldn`t deliver my bag to Casablanca, I asked guest relations to please give me a list of round trip flights and costs from Casablanca to Amsterdam. I know that travel sites list over 100 opportunities and that it takes two to three minutes to get the information. I was told that wasn`t possible; all travel information must come from the Seattle office. Six hours later I was informed that there was a flight to Amsterdam. But, I said, I was looking for a round trip and costs. The next morning, now 18 hours after my request, I was told that there was a round trip with a two hour layover in Amsterdam which would return to Casablanca a couple of hours before the ship departed. They only had one way cost data, however. Given my blood pressure readings and a glaucoma concern, I thought that I might fly up and back...it looked like it would cost me about $600. But wait, Holland America said that most of my layover would be consumed by my trip to and from Rotterdam where the bag was left by their staff. I suspect that the cab ride would cost another $300 or so, but it might be at the expense of making the flight. So, to me, what was a pressing health issue was to them not important enough to deliver the bag to the airport. I decided not to go on what looked like a long shot. My wife requested that the medical office write prescriptions for the missing medicines so that we could look for them in Casablanca. I waited by my phone at the prescribed time. I never heard back. Sometime after leaving Casablanca I asked (again) to speak to the guest relations manager. It still wasn`t possible, but her assistant was available. That turned out to be fortunate. She listened and understood the alternatives and an employee flew the bag to Madeira.....something that was impossible for the previous five days. As a final stroke, we asked our "new friend" to see if she could get us a flight change from the Canary Islands to Madrid to better match our post cruise itinerary. She dutifully contacted the Seattle office and told us that the four of us could fly for $2700. Because of our difficulty in getting information from the service desk, we had arranged internet access. We found the same flights for about $1400. Even after our experience, why did we feel more like profit centers than customers? But, it is what Enron would have done. We`ve been on 10-12 cruises and know what to expect and what constitutes customer care. Holland America has lots of employees who smile, are friendly, and can serve meals and clean rooms. But, when it comes to problem solving, they either dropped the ball or chose the low cost approach.....it`s hard to know which. I would bet that an 8th grade class, if presented with a few basic facts such as 182 flight options on a given day or a 28 hour drive or 106 scheduled airlines, 21 freight operators, and 150 logistic service providers, could suggest 5-6 ways to get a bag from Amsterdam to Casablanca in 4 days. On the other hand, if asked how to prevent me from getting my medicine, I wouldn`t be surprised if they would say.......tell him it can`t be done; nothing is possible. Then if he wants to fly and get his own bag, don`t deliver it to the airport. Finally, if he wants a prescription, don`t give it to him. When I sent a "trip report" to my travel agent and Holland America, HA responded that they had tried and couldn`t find a courier; basically nothing was possible. Because I seemed less than satisfied with how the situation was handled, they offerred a $600 credit on the next cruise. For comparative purposes, that`s 5 per cent of our vacation cost; 2/3 of what it would have cost to retrieve the bag myself; and less than half of the "surcharge" on tickets from the Canary Islands to Madrid. If you are elderly, have a medical issue or are concerned about a special problem, you should think twice about Holland America. My stateroom had a perk of "preferential baggage handling." Think of what could happen to you if you don`t have that. OK trip except for customer service issues i raised.

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Jan 7, 2012

Hawaii

A disappointment..... Being a former travel agent, Holland America always had a very reputable name. Something happened! The Christmas/New Years cruise on the Rotterdam was predominantly Holland America previous passengers. Every single one we spoke with (many) said they would not sail on Holland America again. It is not the Holland America they had come to know. 31 cabins per cabin steward, 22 passengers per waiter, much below par entertainment.

6 ounce glasses in the Lido buffet, no trays to carry food to the table. We had to ask for three days to just get a bar of hand soap for our bathroom. Pillows smelled foul, In the beginning of the cruise, it was almost impossible to find the cabin steward. Near the end when they wanted good marks on the survey, they showed up. Christmas decorations looked like they came from a grandmother's basement and flowers throughout the ship were wilting when we boarded and never replaced. They did do a GREAT job for New Years Eve. It was festive and a lot of fun - I have to give them a big kudo for that. Unfortunately, it was our first cruise on Holland America - and our last. We'll go back to Celebrity. Overall, the food was tasty and had a nice presentation. Abundant storage, comfortable beds. Room was serviced timely. Very dirty exterior windows all two weeks. Run-of-the-mill standard activities. Showroom musical group was very very bad. The singers were always off key, they did not blend together. A far cry from entertainment we're used to. No more beautiful outfits, no more showgirls, just boring and out of their element. Pianist Stryker in the MIX lounge was dynamic. He should be in Las Vegas. Holland America should be very happy to have him. If you ever do go on a Holland America cruise, do not miss seeing him every night. We always do our own shore excursions. We find cruise excursions overcrowded and overpriced for seasoned travellers.

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Sep 19, 2010

Alaska - inside passage

Alaska was great, cruise ship Rotterdam is old and pretty dated even after the so called upgrades. This is a smoking ship - you can smoke anywhere except dining areas. I did not know this, wish I had. Entertainment was average or less, cruise director was less than average, food was good - portions very small. Pinnicle dining is recommended, it was very good, of course a $20.00 pp charge to go with it. Beer (5.75), which is a bit pricey. Have to hit

a happy hour from 4-5pm to afford a drink. The first two days the staff served food and drinks from the bars, said this is something they always do. Wow it made lines VERY long and when they dip it, it is less than a 6oz serving. They eventually open up the drinks, but pretty much still dip food for you. Takes a while to eat. The service was great, food service guys were very good, room stewards were also very good. FYI BEFORE you book.. Cruise cost is just half the cost to do this. After doing a few excursions, drinks some, gamble some and tips. You will spend another 2k or more. Food was good, nothing bad - Just not great. Pinnicle grill food was best on the ship. Serving portions we very very small in formal dining room. Stateroom was large and nice. One of the highlights of the ship. We were on the veranda deck with a balcony, which I suggest for Alaska. Great views. Activities on board we average at best. A good 60's, 70's and 80's show. Comedy was really good with Jeff Burkhart. Other stuff was geared for seniors. Trivia, bingo, name that tune, lame cruise shows. Did enjoy the web/picture classes. Cruise director anthony choice was too over the top "happy". Everything was "the best show" "the best trivia game". Just fake to sum it up. VERY FEW times did they have a band or any music at the pools. We had one band that was on the sail away and was good, never saw them again. You would walk through at 9pm and it was a ghost town. Really enjoyed the excursions. Did the Whale watch in two stops, float plane with Michelle was very good. Enjoyed the park rangers coming on board and talking about the glaciers. Nice to have someone "real" on the ship and not so overboeard. Alaska was wonderful! A must see place. I basically felt the ship was just a tool to get me there to see Alaska, which was the highlight. If you go to see Alaska and just want average cruise food and entertainment - Holland America is perfect I guess. My biggest disappointment - the ship caters to smokers! You can smoke most everywhere on the ship. When you would go to the crows nest for a show or event - it was full of smoke. Casino - full of smoke, rooms smelled like smoke, halls smelled like smoke. If you are a smoker - have at it, if not then I would stay away. It was a huge turn off to the four of us and many others as we chatted on the ship.

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Aug 6, 2010

Alaska Inside Passage

Our party had 8 people. My parents (mid 60s), my wife and I (late thirties), 14 year old girl (cousin), 12 year old boy (cousin), 10 year old girl (our daughter) and 7 year old girl. Parents and the two older cousins both have been on at least one cruise. None of our family have ever cruised. Highlights: Food on board and Alaska. Loved seeing all the glaciers, awesome! Lowlights: Minor motion sickness by a few folks in our party, expensive

shore excursions, Children's program (see comments below) Would we do a cruise again? Maybe. Did we have a good time? Absolutely. We choose to have a fixed seating each evening at 5:45 PM. The food was absolutely fantastic. We loved the smaller portions. The service was good to excellent, better than the average restaurant but at times a bit slow. For the most part, we ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck at the buffet. Again, the food quality was excellent. Due to health concerns, the coffee/water/team beverage bars were not self service the first few days. This made the lines very long. Getting your food and finding a place to sit was a bit slower than I would have preferred but it was not unacceptable. The lines for each food station was a bit confusing. As a result, people would unknowingly cut in line. I don't recall any bad food the entire time on the ship. Our waiter in the evening was good but difficult for me to understand. It was a combination of his accent and being soft spoken. Not a big deal but a little frustrating at times. We had the cheapest rooms you could get on the boat without having to work! We requested no upgrades as we wanted our rooms next to each other. Needless to say, they were inside with no windows. We were on deck 2. My parents told us that there is no need to get a nicer room because you are never in your room. There is certainly truth to that statement. However, when your room is the size of a closet, you certainly don't want to spend any time in your room. Overall, I didn't mind the small room. I would have liked a window. Beyond the size of the room, the actual quality was on par with a 4 star hotel (i.e. Sheraton, Hilton). Our room was always well taken care of by the attendant. Our girls loved seeing the towel animal every night. In fact, we went to the towel animal demonstration and bought the book. Evening Entertainment - singing/dancing shows were ok. My parents loved them. The theatre is nice. Comedian - Good. Somewhat family friendly (surprisingly). Crew night entertainment - Some people liked it, I thought it was boring to terrible. Musicians - There was a string quartet (played during dinner and a few other times on the ship) and top 40 band (frequently by the pool plus in some of the shows). They were surprisingly good. My wife and I are both musicians, so we can be picky. Movies - Selection of shows was ok. The screen size was too small. Library/Coffee Shop - We enjoyed hanging out. Looking out the window. Drinking coffee. Playing board games. Nicer than I expected. Ping Pong - There are two ping pong tables on the Lido deck by the pool. We spent at least an hour per day playing ping pong. The adults love to sit at the tables and look out the window at the beautiful views (whales, mountains, ocean, etc). The kids enjoyed playing ping pong and meeting so other kids on the ship. Ping pong pools can be checked out for $2 at the front desk (major pain being on a different floor). We ended up buying some while in port. The paddles were well used and many of them broken. Children's Program (HAL) - Terrible. The only truly unfriendly staff on the ship. We stopped by for a visit during the open house. The workers were primarily from the US. The acted like they didn't want to be there and were generally unfriendly. None of the kids in our party wanted to return. Our kids came back a few days later to try out the game room. Most of the video game machines were broke (wii, PS3, xbox) and nobody would help with getting them to work. MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT. We never intended on dropping our kids off at HAL, so this didn't impact our trip or plans at all. However, if this part of your plans, beware. Pools - There are two pools on the ship. The aft pool is uncovered/outside. It has a bunch of lounge chairs permanently in the water. There is a big screen outside plus a bar. Perfect for the Caribbean but a complete waste for Alaska. Absolutely no one used this pool the entire week. It was in the 50s and low 60s F most of the trip. The forward pool had a retractable roof. Our kids used it nearly every day. It was perfect temperature. The salt water pool was great for my daughters sensitive skin. There were two hot tubs next to the pool. The seas were rough enough on a few occasions that the water was splashing on the deck. Holland did a good job of managing the retractable roof. Opening it when it was warm/sunny and closing it during rain or cool weather. Float Plan to Glaciers (Juneau) - Beautiful trip. $200 per person. No regrets Dog Sled Camp (Juneau) - Kids liked it but it was expensive for what you got. Gold Panning/Salmon Bake - Best value of the week. Food was okay but not as good as the ship. The setting was beautiful. Tons of Bald Eagles. Waterfall and creek at the Salmon bake. Carriage Ride (Victoria) - We didn't schedule this via Holland. Good value. Enjoyed it very much. 4x4/Canoe Trip - overpriced. Driving around old logging roads was not all that exciting. None of the excursions were geared toward hardcore outdoor people. Most of them were rather touristy. Don't be afraid to explore the ports on your own. Overall, we enjoyed our trip. Personally, I was dizzy about 1/3 of the trip. After starting to get sea sick, I used the prescription patch. It certainly helped but they blurred my vision and made me a little dizzy. I am not sure cruising is my favorite type of vacation. If you want to get a quick overview of Alaska, this is a good way to do it. If you want to explore Alaska, this will be frustrating. Even though I have been to all 50 states in the US, there are a many places I still have not visited. My international travel experience has been limited to the UK, Mediterranean and Israel. All said, there are a lot of places I want to visit that don't require a cruise ship. Would I cruise again? Yes. Is it my preferred method of travel? No. Would I go on Holland American? Maybe. Misc. thoughts: Contrary to what friends told us, Holland America was not all old people. I was surprised at the multi generational groups we met. I liked the fact that the ship was not like a giant nightclub. I didn't run into any drunks.

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Jun 15, 2010

Alaska-Inside Passage

This was our first cruise. We had a relaxing time. Alaska is beautiful-cruise is the best way to enjoy the beauty of Alaska. We had great time in the cruise. Our staterooms were good. Rotterdam crew was very friendly and helpful. However, food was horrible. Entertainment was mediocre. HAL is still stuck with old habits and mentality. The ship is old and not "modern". If you are an Indian family looking for vegetarian food, we strongly recommend

NOT sailing with any of the holland america cruises. HAL and Rotterdam food is HORRIBLE. They had us fill out big forms soon after booking. This form let us choose from a host of Indian Veggie Food choices. We promptly sent the form to them in advance. However, it was a different story after we boarded the ship. Main dining room claimed that they never received our form. They tried to provide us some sort of Indian food for dinner from Day 2 but it was not good at all. We were told that there is only one Indian Chef and he is busy making soups. There was one more big Indian family in the ship as well. They also had the same pathetic experience. Even worse-They have no idea what "Vegetarian" food means. In the Lido deck, they told us French Fries were vegetarian. However, upon further enquiry, we found that the fries were cooked in lard or beef fat. Most of their seemingly veggie soups are made from Chicken or beef broth. We pretty much ate bread-butter-jam, green salad, fruit salad for our lunch and dinner. Breakfast was the only thing that was manageable. We loved the deal-paid $1,100 per person (two of us) for a verandah suite. We had picked category BC but chose "guaranteed" option. We were assigned a spa suite (BQ)- same sized stateroom (292 sq ft) but with certain additional perks like vitamin water, sparkling water, bathrobes, and i-Pod docking station (was very helpful to charge our i-phone). Our stateroom was good and provided us with enough space to store our luggage and relax. Balcony was small but still provided enough space for two people to sit. Ship: Rotterdam is a mid-sized ship. It is pretty old. Even after the "signature of excellence" enhancements, it is still just okay. Amenities: Greenhouse spa/fitness center was very good. We spent a lot of time in the Exploration cafe, sipping nice cappuccino and playing scrabble or reading books from the library. Mix (bar) and other shops were mediocre. Internet (wi-fi) is available for a price. We paid $100 for 270 minutes- you don't really need that much internet time. 100 minutes for $55 was a better deal. Public bathrooms on Deck 8 (lido deck) NEVER worked. Activities: Most of the activities are geared towards older (60+) crowd. We loved the comedy show by comedian Jeff. Other than that we didn't care for any other activity. Crow's nest (hangout place on Deck 9) does not have any Bollywood songs. That shows that HAL is not upto speed with the modern multi-lingual culture and society. Itinerary and Ports of Call: We were OK with the itinerary and ports of calls. Alaska is beautiful. Most of the state is untouched and nature at its best. Our ship went pretty close to Hubbard Glacier-this was the highlight of our trip-saw few chunks of ice fall into the ocean. Juneau is overrated. Ketchikan and Sitka are really good port of calls. Victoria, BC was another good port to visit. Crowd: We could hardly find folks in our age group (29-35). This cruise ship caters to older crowd. Their food and activities are designed for aged population. Disembarkation: This wasn't smooth for us. We had signed-up for luggage direct service with HAL by paying $19 per person. This service was supposed to take our bags and check-in our bags with Southwest airlines all the way directly to our destination. We filled all the paperwork on Day 2 of the cruise. On Day 4 when I went to enquire, front desk had lost my paperwork and had to resubmit. On Day 6 (previous night before disembarkation), I went to front desk to submit feedback forms and noticed that one of the co-passengers had already got luggage tags for her bags (it read AAAA, CCCC etc.). I got baffled and asked the front desk why I haven't got mine yet. They told me at that point that they canceled my request!! They had already charged me for the service too!! When I confronted them, they took out the charge but still had no explanation on why luggage direct didn't go through. This completely upset our plans in Seattle on Day 7. We had to goto Airport with our luggage and store it over there until evening. Special Note for Visa holders: Visa Requirements: Do not rely upon HAL to provide you any guidance. They have no idea on how to handle visa holders. Even worse- they have never heard about EAD and AP. They just know- Green Card and nothing else. After booking, they will send you cryptic e-mails that state that your immigration status is unknown- that is because their website and database is not designed to properly handle visa/EAD/AP holders. You will need a Canadian visa to board the ship. Even if you don't get down from the ship in Victoria or Vancouver, you will still need a Canadian visa since the ship traverses through Canadian waters. HAL front office kept our passports upon embarkation on Day 1. They held it with them until we came back to ship from Victoria on Day 6. They take care of immigration paperwork with Canadian officials upon arrival at VIctoria. You just need your ship ID card and driver's license to go out in Victoria and come back to the ship. Front office will not explain this to you- most of them don't know this procedure.

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