Exploring Holland America Line's new Rotterdam

Five months after talking to Holland America Group’s design director My Nguyen about Rotterdam’s interiors, Jon Ingleton boarded the ship in Portland, UK, to see them in person

Exploring Holland America Line's new Rotterdam

CFR

The patterns, shapes and details in Grand Dutch Café are a triumph

“A wealth of ‘wow’ moments in the art, textures and interior spaces,” said Nguyen in describing Rotterdam’s interior spaces during an interview for Cruise & Ferry Interiors earlier this year. And now that I’ve seen Rotterdam for myself, it’s much easier to appreciate why everyone at Holland America Line has been so excited about this launch. Wow!

Nguyen and the rest of Rotterdam’s design team (which includes Tihany Design, YSA Design and ArtLink) have reinvented Holland America Line’s classical elegance. Any remanants of a brand clinging on to cruising’s golden age have gone but without sacrificing any of the associated glamour. Rotterdam is a ship for present-day cruisers and will appeal equally to long-time Mariner Society members and passengers who are new to cruising.

The brand’s design language has evolved considerably with this launch. Luxurious materials and rich colours (a Holland America Line staple) remain but the tones, shapes and lines have a much more contemporary edge. The interiors that appear inspired by historical periods sit comfortably alongside the spaces that are entirely original, and where the contrasts between venues are significant, the transitions have been sensitively managed.

The patterns, shapes and details in Grand Dutch Café are a triumph and I might easily have taken home one of the Delft-blue armchairs with white pinstripes. Giant ribs frame a show-stopping lighting arrangement and two-storey wine collection will keep the main dining room abuzz. But the top dining venue for me is the Tamarind Bar and restaurant aft of deck 10, a beautifully crafted area, perfectly pitched for an intimate evening at sea.

Having recently visited the exhibition of Italian painter Canaletto’s work at the Holburne Museum in Bath, UK, the Italian restaurant bearing the artist’s name had much to live up to. It’s sufficiently theatrical to justify the artistic association despite the absence of Rococo frills that perhaps no longer suit this reimagined brand.

Entertainment and activity options are as plentiful as the food and beverage offer. The investment in the retractable glass dome in the Lido Pool area will yield a good return during cooler climate cruising and the giant screen at the forward end will enliven starry nights. The similarly bejewelled World Stage retains the 200-foot-long LED screen that is utilised to such good effect elsewhere in the fleet.

Music lovers will be naturally inclined towards Rotterdam’s impressive centrally located facilities. The characteristic branding of each is perfectly enticing for an evening of musical merriment at Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club, Billboard Onboard and Rolling Stone Rock room. Art aficionados will be impressed by works hidden throughout the ship. But a day can be happily lost amid intermittent yelps of ‘wow.’

In July, Nguyen said that Rotterdam would embody a beautiful trilogy of food, music and art. She’s right of course, and so much more. What’s absolutely clear is that every venue and facility is deeply thoughtful and welcoming. Rotterdam will delight her passengers and make a significant contribution to rebuilding our beloved industry.

 

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Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
26 October 2021

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