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Cruise Ship Reviews

More images and info of the "MS Rotterdam" at December 30, 2011:
Holland America Line
Rotterdam History

Rotterdam VI, the new Dutch flagship

Delivered in Venice the November 7th with this size and speed the new ship is capable of the round the world cruises or the transatlantic crossings.
Her speed capability means an expanded 1998 European season with a total of 19 cruises offering 15 different itineraries

by Arturo Paniagua Mazorra (2/12/97)

On 31 January1997 Holland America Line announced the withdrawal of the old Rotterdam effective on September of the same year. This date was after the Alaska season and coincided with the 1992 amendments to the SOLAS 74.
Carnival clearly knew that the Rotterdam didn't fit into their future plans.
On 14 January 1995 Carnival ordered a 62,000 GRT cruise ship from the Italian yard Fincantieri.
Their new ship is capable of a service speed of 25 knots. With this size and speed she is capable of the Round the world cruises or the transatlantic crossings until then allotted to the old Rotterdam.

The "Fastdam"
In the beginning the new ship was known as "Fastdam".
After the announcement of the demise of the old Rotterdam (1/31/96) she was recognized as Rotterdam (VI). Carnival Corp officially named the hull 5980 as Rotterdam VI on March 13rd 1996.

The ship's maiden cruise was scheduled for Oct.6, 1997 but was delayed first until Oct. 18 and then later to Oct. 30.
Finally her first cruise sailed from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 11.
The more than 1,300 passengers booked for each delayed cruise were offered alternative bookings at a 25 percent discount.
H.A.L. attributed the rescheduling on delays caused by manpower shortages at the Fincantieri yard of Venice-Marghera.
Other sources cited that the ship did not meet the 25 knots contractual speed in her sea trials.
After the completion of successful sea trials, the Rotterdam's classification society (Lloyd's Register) issued her Passenger Ship Certificate.
Rotterdam VI was delivered in Venice on November 7th.
The ceremony was attended by Fincantieri chairman, Corrado Antonini and Carnival Corp. honorary chairman, Ted Arison.
Carnival was forced to warn shareholders that fourth quarter earnings could be cut as a consequence of the late delivery.
The final ship price was $350 million.

Her Original Design
Her design was based on the highly successful Statendam class of cruise ships.
The four sisters were delivered by Fincantieri to H.A.L. from 1993 to 1996 (Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam and Veendam).
This design continuity saved both time and money.
The first four Statendam class vessels were only capable of a speed of 22 knots. In order to reach the required 25 knots for the new ship, the hull was radically redefined.
She was broadened and lengthened to lower the hull block coefficient. To improve stability the beam was increased to panamax measurements.
Her draught was extended to 7,8 meters (237.9 ft) (0,3 metres more than the Statendam sisters) to accommodate the needed fuel, water, provisions, etc.
Sloping inward, up to the promenade deck, she is reminiscent of the Old Dutch liners Oranje (later Angelina Lauro) and Willen Ruys (later Achille Lauro).
From the keel to the promenade deck the Rotterdam VI is a new design, but the upper decks will have the same feeling as her fleet mates.

The Look
Externally the ship has a different look.
The angular lines of the Statendam have been softened by curves where possible. The most radical change is her funnel design.
A twin funnel arrangement was adopted for technical reasons (elimination of smut and smoke in taller decks).
However, the twin funnels also echo the old Rotterdam. They are lower and bigger than on the earlier ship due to the exhaust requirements of diesel engines and the incinerator.
Her extra length has been effectively used to provide a third and much needed passenger stair tower and a group of four lifts amidships.
Passengers will never be more than about 40 metres from a staircase.

Breaking New Ground in Excellence
The main interior designer of the Rotterdam was F.C.J. Dingemans, of the firm VFD Interiors BV.
He said that the new Rotterdam was an evolution of the design of the former Statendam sisters.
The basic layout is similar. The public spaces are located in two continuous decks, promenade and upper promenade. The main dining room is located aft, over the stern. The main show room is located well forward, below the bridge.
The atrium and the secondary theater are amidships.
The Rotterdam is the H.A.L. flagship, therefore the designer made a distinction from the previous new builds. This ship feels more classic and more formal with the use of additional wood and dark colors.

The La Fontaine main dining room was designed for two sittings and has the same dramatic design of the Statendam class ships. Even larger this two level space has three sides with views of the sea.
It can house 747 guests in tables for 2,4, 6 and 8 with absolutely no feelings of crowding.
A major difference from the Statendam class is the addition of a second alternative dining room. Odyssey is located amidships forward of the galley on the promenade deck.
This 88-seat restaurant features fine Italian dining in an intimate seating arrangement. Passengers can dine by reservation with no extra charge.
Decorations include gold-framed ceiling mirrors, black and gold columns and Venetian glass candelabras.

A Panoramic View
The central stairwell also houses two curving staircases down to the lower level. The lateral stairways located both port and starboard were moved slightly forward, in order to provide a much greater panoramic view over the stern.
The different levels on the lower deck give an ocean view for all when dining.
The openness of the room can only be described as incredible.
Reminiscent of the old Rotterdam, the Dutch artist Klaas Posthuma painted a giant mural at the back of the dining room.
Depicting Aegean scenes the mural echoes the decor of the remembered Ritz Carlton Room.
The suspended skylight glass ceiling is a creation of the Venetian glass artist Luciano Vistosi who also worked on the Maasdam and Veendam.

Promenade Deck
Forward on the promenade deck is the 165-seat Wajang Theater.
This room can be used as cinema showing recently released movies or as a conference room for lecturing guests on European and Grand voyages as well as for religious services.
The three deck high atrium of the new Rotterdam is oval-shaped and joins the Lower Promenade deck with the two public room decks.
The ship lacks the escalator that links the embarkation deck (main deck) with the Lower Promenade deck found on her sister ships.
At the forward end of the Promenade deck the two-level Queen's main show lounge incorporates the latest in sound and lighting technology.
Featuring a stage that can rotate and has hydraulic lifts this room can accommodate 557 passengers. It is decorated mainly in red, with huge lamps in the ceiling and gold and black statues on the sides.
On the Upper Promenade deck (forward of the second level of the main dining room) port side the Rotterdam maintains the old arrangement of interconnected public rooms.
The wood paneled Erasmus library (fitted with the latest best-sellers), the Puzzle Corner and the quiet 72-seat Half Moon card room.
The extra length permitted the addition of a dual purpose meeting room, the Hudson Room, one of the most beautiful rooms on board.
Starboard is located the Explorer's Lounge, larger than on the Statendam's sisters, with a dance floor made of crushed Italian marble in a floral pattern.

Other Public Rooms
Forward (through the Art Gallery) is located the 220-seat Ambassador's Bar.
The dance floor is the same style of the Ritz Carlton Room featuring a bandstand with a piano for easy-listening music. The rounded ceiling has a marble sculpture, which is a replica of one in a lounge on the classic Nieuw Amsterdam. It is decorated in cream and gold tones, with blue carpets.
This room also houses a replica of the Henry Hudson's ship, the Half moon that crowns the roof.
Forward, the casino houses blackjack tables, slot machines, dice tables, roulette and stud poker. The Shopping Arcade reflects its upscale ambiance. Items with names as Lladro, Gucci, etc. are available for purchase.
Adjoining the Atrium is the Ocean Bar, which houses a piano and dance floor. It is decorated in red and violet tones.
In this room Kees Buckens, the first Rotterdam's Captain, welcomed the press at the Barcelona call.

Lido Deck
The Lido deck (8) forward houses the ocean-view gymnasium.
The gym is complete with weights, stairmasters, cycling and treadmill machines in plenty of space. The aerobics area can be segregated to form a meeting room.
The beauty salon and sauna and massage rooms also form part of this great spa center.
The 386-seat Lido Restaurant, larger than on other H.A.L. ships, features an extensive buffet for casual dining at breakfast and lunch.
There are two swimming pools on board, one covered by a retractable glass dome on the Lido deck.
There are also two whirlpools and a wading pool for children.
The Lido swimming pool is located aft below the funnel and is decorated with a family of sea lions commissioned by the British sculptress Susannah Holt.
The other pool is located well aft on the Navigation deck for passengers who prefer quiet sunning and swimming.
The two tennis courts are located on both sides of the funnels on the Sports deck, protected with glass screens.

Observatory Deck
The Crow's Nest has been extended out over the ship's sides forward on Observatory Deck (9).
Following the Veendam pattern, it was completely rearranged to become a multi-purpose room that includes a tea area (decorated with Dutch porcelain and silver) and a Captain's area (with burgundy leather chairs and sofas and old ship models).
The bar is now circular and a dance floor is located in the starboard side that can become another night disco.
Another first for the Rotterdam is the a dual purpose meeting room/children's area.
Aft on Observatory deck (9), this space is fitted with children's playroom, complete with craft-making areas, teen disco and video games, a concession to the growing number of families on board H.A.L. owned ships.
The Lower Promenade deck features a full traditional teak promenade.
Completely encircling the ship this deck is a delight for walkers as well as the more sedate who enjoy the fixed wood chairs.

Art Collection
The Rotterdam houses a $2 million art and antique collection. The art works were created by world-class artists and the antiques are museum-quality.
Both reflect the Dutch maritime tradition of Holland America Line. Of particular interest the forward staircase houses a collection of paintings of the former Rotterdams.

Superb Accommodations
The ship has 659 staterooms (541 of them with sea views and 160 with private balcony) within five main types: Penthouse Suite, Suite, Deluxe, Outside standard and Inside standard. All are spacious and fitted with a deep closet and drawer space.
Disabled passenger have twenty-three wheelchair accessible cabins to choose from, including two suites.
There is a closed-circuit TV with video recorder in deluxe rooms and suites, worldwide telephones and individual thermostatic control of air-conditioning, is standard.
All the cabins have free 24 hour dining service. A reduced noise level of 55 db(A) is found in all the accommodation with the vessel at full speed.
The most novel aspect of the passenger accommodation are the forty suites located on the Navigation deck. The four penthouse suites totaling 104 m2 (3172 ft) are fitted with a bedroom with king size bed, oversize whirlpool bath & shower and guest toilet, a 16.7 m2 (509.35 ft) private teak verandah, and separate living room with separate steward's entrance, dressing room and dinning room.
The thirty six suites have 52.5 m2 (1601 ft) of surface with the same size of balcony, and features two lower beds convertible to king-size bed, whirlpool bath and shower, and separate sitting and dressing areas.
All verandahs have glass banisters and floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Neptune Lounge
All suite passengers will have access to the Neptune Lounge, a private concierge area at the center of the deck.
The Neptune Lounge is decorated in lattice teak and is available to handle special requests, shore excursion bookings and account services.
This private lounge is accessible by key card and is a quiet room to read the latest newspapers, enjoy coffee, etc.
It can also be used as private function room with a capacity of 17 guests. Special glass will permit views out into the corridor; however, when a private party is taking place an electrical current is applied which turns the glass opaque.

Powerful Engines
The Rotterdam is fitted with a diesel electric plant, configured around five Sulzer 16ZA40s diesel engines that develop 57,600 MW.
The two electric propulsion motors develop 37,5 MW. The propulsion power of the former Statendam sisters is only 24 MW.
A very high power penalty for only three knots.
As can be expected, the ship is fitted with the latest communication, navigation and waste treatment equipment in the market.
Another important aspect nowadays in cruise ship operation is the ship's maneuverability.
Not only does the state of the art maneuverability save tug costs, but the performance is spectacular on the new Rotterdam.
Our Barcelona departure which experienced high winds and rain, can only be described as a perfect nautical spectacle.

Her First Cruises
The Rotterdam first cruise was a 23-day voyage throughout the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic that began in Barcelona the November 11th.
The ship will arrive in Fort Lauderdale on December 4th, hosting thousands of travel agents and past passengers during a series of special introductory events.
Later, the ship will sail on a seven-day Western Caribbean cruises, including the first call of H.A.L.'s new private island, Half Moon Cay.
Then the ship will sail seven-day Christmas and New Year's Cruises. On January 5th she will depart on her first Trans-canal cruise and the 19th will begin her first Round-the-World Cruise.

Round-the-World Cruise
This 95-day voyage will span five continents and visit 30 destinations.
The Rotterdam will sail first to the Pacific with calls in Hawaii and Fiji before calling at New Zealand and Australia.
She then cruises on to the Philippines, Hong Kong and Vietnam in route to Singapore.
Traveling on to Malaysia, India and the Seychelles the Rotterdam then will chart a course around the coasts of Africa with calls in Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa.
She will then cross the Atlantic to South America with calls at Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
The Rotterdam then sails back to New York via Half Moon Cay and other Caribbean islands.

The 1998 Mediterranean Season
H.A.L. will send its "Flagship of Excellence" to Europe next year.
Her speed capability means an expanded European season with a total of 19 cruises offering 15 different itineraries.
They range in length from 9 to 12 days. H.A.L. is adding two Baltic cruises and one Eastern Mediterranean cruise to the 16 successful 1997 cruises (carried-out by the Maasdam which sold out the preceding December), thereby extending its cruising season by a month and a half.
The summer cruise season begins April 24 with a transatlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon, and extends through it's December 3 return Big Band cruise from Lisbon to Fort Lauderdale.
Peter McHugh, H.A.L. president said in Internet: "Holland America increased both the number of cruises and number of itineraries in response to popular demand".

For those who love the earlier ambiance of the old ocean liners, the Rotterdam will be your ship.
She incorporates more wood and darker colors and has a classic feel.
Her speed permits more and longer port calls on grand voyages. She becomes the perfect ship for such cruises.
The ship's classy ambiance, its solid tradition of superior service and its newness should make the new Rotterdam a strong competitor in the now busy deluxe market.
With a space to passenger ratio of 47 Gt./pass (almost the same figure found in the Crystal's two big deluxe cruise ships) the Rotterdam will have superior value for money spent than any other ship in her segment.
The old Rotterdam made a clear profit of $27 million in 1994, and also made a handsome profit in 1995, 1996 and 1997 as well.
This forty year old ship was retired after making twenty-nine world cruises.
The Rotterdam (VI) is the perfect successor, and I think that when the ship is twenty years old she will have the same loyal clientele and reach the same level of profitability that the former Rotterdam enjoyed.
As a sign of confidence with this design H.A.L. ordered two sister ships even before the Rotterdam was delivered from Fincantieri.
The new additions to the H.A.L. fleet will be named Volendam and Zaandam with delivery in 1999.


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