Holland America Line


Overall Editor Rating
David Swanson April 21, 2023

Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Holland America Line
Cruise StylePremium
Ship SizeMidsize
Price Range$$
Sails To

Car...ern Europe

Caribbean; Northern Europe
Sails From Florida; Amsterdam
Florida; Amsterdam
Duration7-21 days

The newest member of the Holland America Line (HAL) fleet, debuting in 2021, this is actually the seventh ship to carry the Rotterdam name, making it the standard bearer for this long-lived cruise line (HAL was founded in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in 1873).  The ship is stocked with original art, including handsome oil paintings and models of previous iterations of the Rotterdam at sea.  The line’s history is also saluted at the Half Moon Bar, where the HAL story is shared via a bespoke cocktail menu.Read More

Carrying 2,668 passengers, the ship features a wide range of cabins, including accommodations for solo travelers and spa-themed cabins.  The Greenhouse Spa features a full range of treatments, and the adjoining salon has floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the view.  The Thermal Spa offers heated tile recliners, steam rooms, sauna and a delicious hydropool that can be purchased by the day, and a fitness center with classes such as Pilates and TRX suspension training offered at a fee.

Like its sisters in the Pinnacle Class fleet, Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, the elegant Rotterdam is a solid match for those seeking the entertainment and dining variety of a big ship cruise, but without the crowds. Activities are robust, the Southeast Asian crew is full of smiles and accommodation, and that “new ship” smell is lovely to experience.


Rotterdam’s Music Walk, a HAL staple—think a piano bar, the Rolling Stone Rock Room, the B.B. King Blues Club, and the Lincoln Center Stage for classical concerts—can be found on Deck 2  
Cruises out of Amsterdam are led by mostly Dutch officers and a majority of passengers are from Holland, lending a distinctly Dutch ambience to a Northern Europe voyage  
Included meal options are generally very good, with a range of international choices in the Dining Room    
Some families will find the limited children’s activities lacking
No coin-op laundry on the Pinnacle Class ships (unlike older HAL ships)
While Rotterdam features a well-stocked library of books, games stocked in the Game Room, a worthy venue for this ship, are largely missing essential elements for play (die, score cards, rules, etc.)

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Editor Rating

Rotterdam has the standard array of cabins and suites, all featuring subdued, modern décor.  Standard throughout: bathroom with shower, bathrobes, hair dryer, interactive LED television offering movies on demand, minibar, mini-safe, data port, telephone, queen-size bed (convertible to two single beds).  Some cabins are equipped to sleep three or four, with a pull-down berth and/or sofa bed. There are 40 accessible cabins in all categories.

Least expensive options are Interior cabins, which are found throughout the ship and do not have a window—these can be as small as 143 square feet.  There are a variety of Ocean-view cabins, along with slightly larger Family Ocean-view units which have two bathrooms—one with shower and sink, the other with a bathtub.  Twelve single Ocean-view cabins are located on Deck 1, near the bow, and can offer good value for solo travelers.

More than half of the ship’s accommodations are Verandah cabins, which start at 228 square feet, including balcony, and located on decks 4 through 8.  Several different sizes of suites are available, ranging up to the Pinnacle Suite, measuring 1,290 square feet.

Rotterdam has a total of 40 cabins offering accessible features in all accommodation categories, and classified in two types.  Fully Accessible cabins are designed for guests with highly limited or no mobility who require use of a wheelchair, scooter or other assistive device. Bathrooms are equipped with either roll-in shower, transfer shower (providing maneuvering clearance and a shower bench), or an accessible bathtub. Ambulatory Accessible cabins are for guests who do not require use of a wheelchair or scooter but offer some accessible features. Elevators and accessible restrooms are available for all public (non-cabin) decks. Transfers to shore can be accommodated at most ports, and tender boats have a lift system allowing guests to roll on and off tenders.

Guests who are deaf or hard of hearing can request kits that include visual or tactile alerts for phone ringing or door knocks, and cabin TVs have closed captioning features. Assistive listening devices are available for shows. For guests who are blind or have low vision, HAL can provide a downloadable daily newsletter and menus for guests with screen reader programs; Braille menus are available with advance notice.

Food & Drink

Editor Rating

The Dining Room is Rotterdam’s main restaurant venue.  Seating up to 1,170 on two levels, at dinnertime passengers have a choice of an early or late seating on Deck 3, at 5:45 and 8:00 p.m., or “anytime” seating on Deck 2.  It is possible to make reservations in advance for the lower level, otherwise there may be a short wait for a table, especially for those desiring a two-top (which are mostly clustered in the center of the room, away from the view).

Breakfast is served daily on the lower level and includes a full range of egg dishes and omelets, cereals, pancakes and French toast, Asian congee and the traditional English breakfast.  Lunch is typically offered on embarkation and sea days only, but features a pleasing selection, from Mexican street tacos to Dutch pannenkoek, a tasty apple and bacon pancake.  Dinners highlight international fare from HAL’s Culinary Council of celebrity chefs, and gluten-free and vegetarian options are always available.  While meals in the Dining Room are covered with the cruise fare, there is an up-charge for select items, such as steak or lobster at dinner, or crab Louie salad at lunch.

Lido Market, Rotterdam’s buffet venue, offers a wide variety of food options.  It can be quite crowded in the morning, but arrive early or late and empty tables are plentiful; lunch is also busy on sea days, but dinner is lightly attended. No self-service is allowed — crewmembers dish out as much as you like — and drinks can be ordered from waiters. Other options covered in the cruise fare include the New York Deli and Pizza overlooking the main pool on Deck 10; Dive In, which has a roster of tasty burgers; and the Grand Dutch Café, which has a limited menu of small bites (including HAL’s famous pea soup) along with coffee beverages.

Four specialty dining options are available, with an up charge, and reservations are advised.  Least expensive is Canaletto ($19 per person), which inhabits an underutilized corner of the Lido Market for Italian comfort food: appetizers, pastas and entrées such as chicken, veal, lamb, and branzino. Rotterdam’s Pan Asian option is Tamarind ($25), which features an eclectic menu and a terrific perch for sunset overlooking the aft pool. Pinnacle Grill ($39) is HAL’s time-honored steakhouse offering a selection of steaks, chops and seafood, reliably prepared, served in a plush dining room. Lastly, Rudi’s Sel de Mer ($49) is a standalone venue on Rotterdam where French classics such as Dover sole meuniere, oysters on the half shell, steak frites, and duck cassoulet are delivered with aplomb.

Room service is also available 24 hours, and afternoon tea is served in the Dining Room daily at 3 p.m.

In addition to bar service available in each dining venue, Rotterdam has seven standalone bars spread around the ship.  The more unique options include the Half Moon Bar, which offers twists on classic cocktails with links to the HAL story and culture.  Crow’s Nest is located above the bridge, a popular spot when scenic cruising is underway. Tamarind Bar has a roster of martinis on offer—watch for happy hour specials.

Mixed drinks average $10-12, with beer and most wines by the glass priced somewhat less.  HAL charges a $20 corkage fee for each bottle of wine and Champagne brought aboard, whether opened by crew or by guests in their cabin. 


Editor Rating

One of Rotterdam’s standout features is World Stage, found on decks 2 and 3 forward, a near theatre-in-the-round for a variety of performances including dance reviews and shows using LED screens that encircle the audience. The Music Walk on Deck 2 is where live rock, blues and jazz, and singalong piano favorites start up nightly around 7:30 p.m. Live music is found in other places, such as the dance band that plays in the Ocean Bar some evenings, and a classical quartet that uses the Lincoln Center Stage for afternoon performances.

Movies are offered by the Lido Pool nightly. The ship also has a lending library with a solid collection of books, and leather lounge chairs facing the sea view. Throughout the day the schedule of activities stays busy, especially on sea days—ping pong and basketball tournaments, bingo, dance lessons, trivia contests, mahjong and bridge are typically on the roster.

Spa & Fitness

Editor Rating

The seductive Greenhouse Spa is located on Deck 9 forward and a wide variety of treatments are available, at prices comparable to most quality resorts. Treatments are often discounted on port days, and other specials become available as the cruise goes on, particularly for those booking multiple appointments. Prices range from $149 for the 50-minute Swedish or Reflexology Massage to $299 for a 100-minute AromaSpa Seaweed Massage or Aroma Stone Therapy.  Facials are $149 to $199, and the salon offers hair styling, waxing, and manicure and pedicure services. 

The spa includes the Greenhouse Retreat, a spa within the spa with a very appealing indoor hydropool bubbling away, a thermal suite (akin to a Turkish bath) with dry heat, steam and aromatherapy chambers, and heated ceramic loungers. Per-week and per-day pricing varies, probably based, in part, on demand. The gym is accessed through the spa entrance and the overall facility is stocked with well-maintained cardio equipment and weights. The gym can be crowded in the early morning. Some fitness classes are free, such as Tai Chi and abs conditioning, (announced in the ship’s daily newsletter), while yoga and spinning classes have an added fee.

Key cruising tips

Health & Safety

Rotterdam has a staffed medical facility with a physician available for more serious issues; consultations will be charged to an on-board account. 

Covid protocols are evolving and largely dependent on destination. Vaccinated guests do not need to test before boarding but must show proof of vaccination, and unvaccinated guests must take a Covid-19 test (can be self-administered) within 3 days of embarkation.

Some itineraries have additional requirements, including all Canada, Alaska and Australia cruises.


Dress Code

By day, casual resort wear is appropriate aboard Rotterdam.  Most evenings, “smart casual” wear is expected—shorts, pool wear, distressed jeans and tank tops are not allowed at night.  Typically, two Gala Nights are designated for every seven days at sea, and cruisers are encouraged to dress to impress.  Jacket and tie are not required for men (some tradition bound guests will be wearing them), but otherwise, collared shirts and slacks for gents, and elegant dresses, skirts or slacks for women are fine.

Junior Cruisers

Cruisers on Rotterdam are predominantly adult—mostly aged 50 or up, but children are found on some itineraries, especially around school holidays and often as part of multi-generational family groups.  Areas set aside for kids, Club HAL for children ages three to 12 and The Loft for teens, and age-specific activities might include painting, story-time, Xbox tournaments, relay races, mocktail parties, and karaoke contests. The staff for these facilities is adjusted based on the number of kids booked on each itinerary, but families with young children may want to pack plenty of entertainment options.


The majority of HAL’s cheerful guest-facing crew is Indonesian (owing to that country’s historical relationship with Holland) and Philippine; officers hail from a variety of countries, but especially from Holland.  English is a first or second language for all and all cruise announcements and scheduled are published in English.


HAL adds a $15.50 per day, per passenger surcharge to the checkout bill, to cover gratuities for cabin and dining staff ($17 for suites). A service charge of 18% is automatically added to beverages, drinks, specialty dining, and spa charges. Additional tips are not expected.


Entered Service
Number of Cabins
Passenger Capacity
Crew Members
Passengers to Crew Ratio
Gross Tons
115 feet
984 feet

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