The Rotterdam was described to me as a ship for foodies and music lovers, as are all of the Pinnacle Class ships from Holland America. There was a relaxed elegance and attention to detail that made the ambiance from boarding day to disembarkation day a fabulous experience.
Our Veranda Cabin
Even though we booked late, with the reduced occupancy on the the ship, we were able to book a basic balcony, and upgrade to a cabin with a larger balcony when we did the Club Orange paid upgrade option. If you are interested in a better cabin location and the added amenities of the Club Orange dining and expedited boarding privileges, then I recommend doing the math on the price of the difference between the least expensive balcony and the best, calculating the difference, and then dong the math to see if the actual additional cost it is to do the Club Orange Upgrade. Normally Club Orange is $35 pp per day, but they had a special offer of $25 pp per day, so we went for it. We choose V5117, which gave us an extra large balcony and an 180 sq foot interior space. The bathrooms were certainly not the biggest on the sea, but big enough that you could change in there and not hit your head on the doors or the wall like the standard veranda cabins on Virgin. Overall we were pleased with the layout of the room and loved having the extra love seat sofa and the desk by the window.
The overall lay out and facilities of the ship provided an excellent flow from activity to activity as the mail lounges, dining and music/entertainment venues were all located on decks 3 and 4. We very much enjoyed how one event flowed to the other through out the evening. They often used the same venue for the BB King Allstars, Comedians and Lincoln Center On Stage. The main theater, which was not used as often, was just steps away and hosted one night of comedy and the BBC Earth In Concert multimedia shows.
Bars and Lounges
We tended to hang out in the Ocean Bar on Deck 3 as it was close to our dining on Club Orange. After dinner, we spend most night enjoying the live blues and soul in the BB King Lounge.
The ship featured two pool areas. One was facing aft which was surrounded by a large open deck, and the other was the main solarium pool which features a retractable roof.
I’ll have full dining review on another page, but here is a brief summary of the venues. One of the most beautiful areas of the ship is the main dining room which takes some architectural cues from the design of wooden instruments like a guitar or cello. I only dined in here once as we had upgraded to the Club Orange, but I loved the overall ambiance of the room.
We ate several times at the Lido Market, which is not a buffet but rather stations where your food is prepared for you ala minute. There was an excellent selection and a nice open air ambiance. The Canaletto specialty dining experience is also located up in this area, as a separate area with table service and a surcharge. It is open for lunch and dinner.
The Dive In was the pool side burgers and hotdogs venue just off the lower deck of the atrium pool. Up stairs they had New York Pizza and Deli with custom made pizzas and sandwiches.
For specialty dining experiences, there was an abundance of choices on this ship. We chose to dine at Pinnacle Grill, their fine steak house, but other specialty dining offerings included Tamarind and Rudi Sel De Mer.
Club Orange is an exclusive venue for suites to which on a capacity limited basis, guests can upgrade. Club Orange is usually offer for $35 pp per day. Once guests have paid the upgrade, they get an upgrade to the best available cabin within the super category in which they are booked. So inside to better inside, oceanview to better oceanview and balcony to best balcony, etc. This meant that though we had booked a lower level category of balcony, I was able to pick one of the cabins in the balcony category that had a much larger balcony. It also meant that we could enjoy breakfast and dinner and lunch on sea days, in the more personalized, smaller, club orange dining room. The main menu there was pretty much the same as the main dining room, but every night they featured a couple of dishes that was only available in Club Orange. Clube orange also got us priority embarkation and a few other goodies along the way.
Cruising in Covid Times
This cruise was in January of 2022 when the CDC for some reason, thought it best to advise folks not to go on cruise due to the breakthrough cases of Omicron. We kind of felt like that advice was silly as we felt safer enjoying a cruise than we would out to dinner in our hometown. We are both vaccinated and boosted as is everyone else on the ship including crew. Everyone on the ship was also tested either before getting on, or regularly if they are crew.
If the average cruise ship was a state, in January of 2022, they would have had the lowest rates of Covid in the Nation, yet cruise ships were given a level 4 advisory. So we happily went on our cruise, but unfortunately, many guests choose to cancel or not to book at all, which meant that we had about 880 passengers were enjoying the cruise with us on a ship that hold around 2500 passengers. This meant not only great service but also plenty of room to spread out.
This was also a time when guests and crew were required to wear masks. Quite frankly, I find it much easier to wear a mask on a cruise then it is when flying to get there. In my cabin, which is where I spend most of my day working, I didn’t need to wear a mask. I really only had to wear one when in the theater, walking down the halls, walking to my cocktail table and walking dinner. When seated for dinner or drinks, they could be removed. When outdoors we didn’t have to wear them either. We usually like to walk on the treadmill during a cruise, but due to the indoor mask requirements, but walked either the track or the wrap-around promenade. Indoors and on the bus during our excursion we also had to wear them.
However, mostly due the reduced capacity on the trip, we loved the attentive and timely service and the uncrowded feeling in every venue.
Overall, we thought the entertainment was excellent, even though it was partially diminished due to either Covid or Lower Capacity. The B B King Blues Club was in full swing, though the Rolling Stone Rock room did not have a band. With fewer passengers on board, this was fine as the music provided by the BB King All-stars was well sung and performed and provided us with a great variety of musical styles from blues, to rock, to soul to pop. We had two comedians during the cruise that we very much enjoyed. The Billboard On Board dueling Pianos played every night, but we just never found ourselves in that venue. The entertainment in the main theater was limited. There was a dance group that was supposed to perform twice but were only able to do one ship because of cast member injury. Two evenings of the cruise they played the BBC Earth Multimedia Nature videos. These feature a live orchestra and a special score by Hans Zimmer. Any of us who have enjoyed those documentaries at home, would enjoy the enhanced experience with the live orchestra.