The Holland America Line MS Rotterdam is a medium sized ship with 9 decks holding around 1,400 passengers. Decks 1,2,3,6 and 7 are filled with inside and outside cabins. Balcony cabins and suites are located on decks 3, 6 and 7. These cabins feature two beds which can be single or pushed together to make a double at one end of the cabin. In the middle is a sofa, table ad dressing table with drawers. There is no fridge or tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms. There is a small TV and DVD player above the dressing table which connects to a number of TV Channels. DVDs can be borrowed from the main desk. There is ample wardrobe space with three single wardrobes and a half wardrobe with shelves, one of which houses the room safe. The bathroom has washbasin, toilet and shower area. The rooms are serviced twice a day, in the morning and early evening. If you change for dinner after early evening used towels are not replaced until the following day. Each deck also has a self-service laundry area which costs $3 to wash and dry a machine load of clothes.
There are two main eating areas on the ship: the main formal restaurant which is split level on decks 4 and 5 and serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and evening meal and the self-service restaurant on deck 8 which is open throughout the day. There are also a number of smaller speciality restuarants available at extra charge. There is a good choice of food in both restaurants and vegetarian and low sugar diets are catered for as a matter of course. Other dietary requirements have to be requested a day in advance.
Throughout the day there are a range of activities to participate in including guest speakers, quizzes, art and craft classes, bridge classes, dancing classes, IT sessions, excursion and port guides, a book club and cooking demonstrations. Wifi internet is available at the astronomical price of $0.75 per minute. There are a few shops on board but the goods are all priced higher than typical high street prices. There is a casino which is open when the ship is at sea but it does allow smoking which is rather uncomfortable if you are a non-smoker. There is a well stocked library on board with books, games and jigsaws. If you want to keep fit there is a fully equipped gym on deck 8 and walkways on decks 3 and 9. There is just one quite small swimming pool on deck 8 and 3 hot tubs. A second seimming pool has been inexplicably emptied and filled with sunbeds.
While the range of daytime entertainment and activities on offer is wide-ranging and diverse and cannot be faulted, the ship falls down on its evening entertainment. There is a main split level show lounge on decks 4 and 5 which features a nightly entertainment of singers, dancers and musicians. On the whole the shows were very good, particularly those performed by the Rotterdam show team. Apart from the show lounge there are four other musical options:
1. a classical pianist and violinist who play a range of melancholy classical pieces in the Ocean Bar creating a funereal atmosphere. This bar rarely had more than a handful of passengers
2. piano man Buddy who plays a selection of old time classics to very small groups who enjoy this kind of music
3. an excellent four-piece band that also accompany guest artists but whose talents are largely wasted in playing middle of the road musac to a limited audience
4. B B Kings Blues Club Band are an excellent gourp of singers and musicians that play a selection of blues and motown music ranging from 1950s to present day. Howevr, the lively upbeat atmosphere created by the live music is spoilt at the end of their sets when the music played by the resident DJs reverts back to musac and so-called golden oldies. When music from this century was requested they were very reluctant to comply. Overall the evenings on board the ship were disappointing with the ship having the atmosphere of a ghost ship after 10pm.
The Rotterdam makes a service charge of $12.50 per person per day plus adds 15% service charge to all drinks. While the crew are all very nice and helpful we did not feel that they went over and above their duties to the tune of $12.50 per day.
Holland America offer a great range of excursions at every port and in most ports we opted to go on arranged excursions. They were all very good and enjoyable.
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise largely due to the itinerary, the port excursions and the range of daytime activities. However, the poor range of evening entertainment left us with little to do after eating our evening meal.