Launched in 1997, Rotterdam VI is the sixth in a line of Holland America flagships and it shows. The first Rotterdam set sail in 1872, beginning a Holland America tradition and reputation that continued through Rotterdam V, one of the most beloved ships of all time and host to 28 world cruises.
Like her five classic predecessors, Rotterdam is more of a throwback to earlier cruise ships compared to most megaships built after 1995. However, with a maximum cruising speed of 25 knots and all of the modern amenities expected of a relatively large ship, the Rotterdam successfully straddles that sometimes fine line between classic and modern.
Highlights of the Rotterdam experience include: some of the largest "standard" cabins afloat; a high percentage of outside cabins that feature verandahs; upscale alternative dining in the Pinnacle Grill; and the Explorations Cafe -- a library, Internet cafe and coffee bar wrapped into one popular hangout.
The Rotterdam also features typical Holland America history and service. Memorabilia of the line's fabled past can be seen throughout the ship (the Dutch officers are happy to share the company's history with curious passengers). In addition, the Indonesian and Filipino staff continue the Holland America tradition of sparkling clean ships and white-gloved service.
Though a typical Holland America and Rotterdam cruise tends to attract more mature passengers, younger travelers and families are definitely coming aboard. It all depends on the itinerary and time of year. Gentleman Hosts are typically onboard for cruises of two weeks and longer.
Seven-night cruises typically feature two formal nights, with an extra formal night for every additional five days or so on longer cruises. Men definitely tend to wear tuxedos on these nights. Semi-formal nights call for jacket, but ties are optional. Casual nights simply call for resort wear, where blue jeans and T-shirts are frowned upon by fellow passengers.
The 1,432-passenger Volendam has had a couple of refurbishments since its 1999 debut, one in 2006 and one in 2011, which saw a ship-wide spruce up.
As cruise lines add a dizzying array of features, Zuiderdam maintains Holland America's satisfying and enjoyable, although not particularly surprising, experience at sea.
Oosterdam, launched in 2003, carries 1,916 passengers and offers a more modern twist on a classic ship.
Although it's not a new ship, Holland America's Westerdam continues to do what the line does best -- balance the traditional cruising experience with updated, contemporary amenities.
Holland America Line aims to strike a balance between classic and contemporary, and the intimate, 2,000-passenger Noordam, christened in 2006, manages this well.
Traditional and upscale; emphasizes music and gourmet dining; features Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Onstage, B.B. King's Blues Club; holds about 3,000.
Traditional emphasis on gourmet dining, live music and an impressive art collection; highlights are the Culinary Arts Center and B.B. King's Blues Club; holds fewer than 3,000.
Upscale; emphasis on music and gourmet dining; highlights are the Culinary Arts Center, Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage and B.B. King's All-Stars Band; holds about 3,500.
Holland America welcomes a second ship to its Pinnacle Class in 2018. Nieuw Statendam will follow in the footsteps of Koningsdam, the line's largest ship.