Holland America Line Rotterdam Is Perfect For Multi Generational Family Cruises
Luxury Travel & Travel + Leisure

Holland America Line Rotterdam Is Perfect For Multi Generational Family Cruises

Holland America Line Rotterdam cruise ship at Half Moon Cay 

Holland America Line Rotterdam Is Perfect For Multi Generational Family Cruises

Cruising is back and dare I say better than ever? I was invited on Holland America Line’s newest cruise ship the Rotterdam for its USA inaugural in the beginning of November and it did not disappoint.

Cruise HAL on the Rotterdam

Holland America Line, also abbreviated by some people as just HAL, has an amazing history in the varied shipping industry. Starting in 1873, it operated in many different capacities including a Dutch shipping line, a passenger line, a cargo line and a cruise line operating primarily between the Netherlands and North America. While this history lesson may seem out of place compared to other cruise lines where the focus is simply relaxing in the sun with a cold drink in your hand – it works well here. In fact, this 150 years of heritage is so important to the brand that they set the tone with a show titled, “Origin Story” where they share the cruise line’s unique story through photos and video clips presented on giant screens mounted around the theater while a narrator tells the stories.

Holland America Line Origin Story

For instance, did you know that Holland America Line was involved in the transport of many of our ancestors coming from Europe to North America? If your family came over from Europe in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s you should research to see if they traveled on a Holland America ship and add this history to your family’s legacy too.

Half Moon Bar menu

In fact, this new Rotterdam cruise ship, also known as Rotterdam VII, is the seventh to bear the name and so it has a special place in the company’s history beyond just the name representing the city where the line was founded.

Throughout the ship you will find touches that connect you to this Dutch history and culture through art, food, drinks, and even the china patterns. For instance, the Half Moon Bar menu is literally built around celebrating the history of Holland America Line.

HAL Rotterdam Cruise Ship for Luxury Family Travel

Rotterdam is currently sailing cruises exploring Caribbean destinations including Bimini and Half Moon Cay (their private island) in the Bahamas that were part of our five-day cruise sailing from Fort Lauderdale.

Seafood tower at Rudi's Sel de Mer

Dine in Style on the Holland America Line Rotterdam

Rotterdam offers a wide variety of specialty complimentary restaurants on the ship including New York Pizza, The Grand Dutch Cafe, and Dive-In which people say has the best burgers at sea.  It also features Pinnacle Grill (steakhouse), Canaletto (Italian) Tamarind (Asian), and Rudi's Sel de Mer (French). Rudi's in particular is one of my favorites since it combines a fantastic menu with light hearted humor featuring Chef Rudi's famous “food faces” painted on the plates when you arrive at the table and sometimes you might even get a surprise food face for desert too.

Dutch food at Grand Dutch Cafe

Personally, I loved the Dutch Cafe and that Holland America Line has brought a taste of the Netherlands on to the ship. I may not like herring and split pea soup (though my husband does!) but I loved the ham and cheese sandwich with fries and all the dipping sauces as well as the enormous Bossche Bol (cream puff). You should definitely check out The Grand Dutch Cafe. 

Tour the Holland America Line Rotterdam

There are so many places to explore on the ship but I will tell you that my favorite place to go is Explorations Central Cafe and the Crow’s Nest. This is the forward observation lounge and features beautiful views of where the ship is headed. Crow’s Nest is the perfect place to relax and enjoy your specialty coffee drink from Explorations Cafe while reading a book or just watching waves and clouds as they pass by. 

For those of you who might not be heavy alcohol drinkers, the beverage packages also include specialty coffee. This is something I absolutely took advantage of during our cruise.

Rotterdam has 2 swimming pools that are beautiful. I love how there are regular stairs to get into the pool to make it easier for all to get into the pool instead of the awkward ladders many cruise ships have that are not safe for certain populations. Touches like the entry to the pool make this ship a perfect multigenerational family vacation idea. 

Rotterdam aft Pool

The second pool at the aft of the ship is absolutely stunning at night with colored lights but depending on fellow guests, this area also serves as a smoking lounge and so it was not our favorite place to hang out by the pool and relax.

There is something on the ship for everyone. Well, I say that but it is hard to please teenagers no matter what cruise ship you are on because of hormonal teenage angst. However, despite Holland America Line’s reputation as being a cruise line for “older people”, we saw people of all ages enjoying themselves on the ship. 

From dancing to blues performances by the BB King Blues band to rocking out at the Rolling Stones Rock Lounge, Rotterdam’s “Music Walk” area is a great way to bring people together who share a love of music and having a great time.

Staterooms on the Holland America Line Rotterdam

Rotterdam also has some of the most comfortable beds at sea. I find that some cruise ship are too hard but HAL’s are perfect and the sheets are so silky it is really like heaven. The balcony staterooms are pretty standard size for the cruise industry and have great chairs with footrests on the balcony.

Rotterdam bathroom in veranda balcony cabin

One of the things I also liked about Rotterdam as well as Koningsdam (both Pinnacle Class sister ships), is the bathroom. While the toilet looks awkward initially because of the angle, it actually is spaced well and the shower was plenty comfortable even for my “big and tall” husband who often has issues in cramped cruise ship showers.

Afternoon tea on Holland America Line Rotterdam

While I would sail on this ship again in a heartbeat for a romantic getaway or even a girls weekend (James wants to do a guys trip cruise too). However, this ship offers a special opportunity for families as well.

Lobster at Half Moon Cay

Rotterdam makes for a great intergenerational family cruise vacation because it offers a wide variety of food and entertainment options that will appeal to younger folks as well as older ones too. Part of the joy of a cruise vacation is sharing stories and building memories – not just the journey or the destination and Holland America Line does a fantastic job at that.

HAL COVID Protocols

Now for COVID protocols…Holland America in November was requiring a negative antigen test done at least 48 hours ahead of time along with being fully vaccinated. You also had to wear a mask when embarking, in elevators, and walking around the ship inside. 

You could take your mask off when eating and drinking and when outside in non crowded areas. For me it was no big deal and became second nature. HAL also gave each person a mask that could be washed daily and was very protective, especially if you bring your own filters and insert it into the pocket sewn into the mask provided. 

If you are fully vaccinated, and are taking all precautions right now is a great time to cruise. Most ships are running at or below 70% capacity and honestly I felt extremely comfortable and it was so nice to be able to eat in a restaurant, something I have not done in 2 years due to COVID and not wanting to be in a closed door restaurant.

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10 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Holland America Line is an established cruise line offering luxury cruises, ideal for special occasions, fans of traditional cruising. I experienced unforgettable emotions from this trip. Thanks for the article, it’s very interesting!

  2. Wow! Your article is very helpful. Thanks to you, I know where I’m going on vacation next month 🙂

  3. Such a helpful article! I want to thank you for the great information. Really enjoyed the article.

  4. Such a helpful article! I want to thank you for the great information. Really enjoyed the article.

  5. We loved sailing on the Rotterdam! My mind is captured on this wow love it

  6. It was a pleasure reading the article you shared with us, and I found it very helpful.

  7. Pingback: Here’s What You Should Bring on a Cruise and What You Should Leave at Home

  8. Pingback: 7 Things To Consider When Taking the Whole Family on Vacation

  9. Nick Billows

    Hi Stacie,

    We are booked for a March 2023 sailing on the Rotterdam.  As we are older, we like the serenity of the Crows Nest on Deck 12.  But some HAL reviews said there is music, karaoke, dancing, games, and other activities there in the evening and maybe during the day as well.  Did you find this to be the case, or is it the standard Crow’s Nest we love on other HAL ships like Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam?we would appreciate your advice.

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