Many thanks to David Giventer, Ryndam’s future cruise consultant, who sent in this fabulous post. Enjoy!
In the harbor of Rotterdam there is a very beautiful passenger ship! She was once considered so modern and chic that her external design and interior decorative appointments were considered a far-reaching departure from what was then accepted as conventional. In fact, so radical was her external design that it was a carefully kept secret until when Holland America Line executives unpackaged a model of the new ship for display in their offices in New York, they were aghast to discover that the ship lacked a funnel!
The traditional funnel was stylishly revised to what would quickly become an iconic symbol of the ship, a feature that made her instantly recognizable; the twin uptakes aft.
Of course, the ship is the S.S. Rotterdam. Launched on 13 September 1958 in Rotterdam and entering service one year later on 3 September 1959, she became one of the most beloved and long serving cruise liners following the end of WWII.
Her engines now silent, she has come home and has been preserved as a floating hotel/facility ship. The ship has been faithfully restored to her original dove gray livery and is proudly sited at the entrance to the cruise port Rotterdam near the hotel New York which itself once served as the headquarters of Holland America line.
It was my pleasure to sail on the S.S Rotterdam five times and once as the S.S. Rembrandt, so renamed following her acquisition by new owners. I sailed with my father on his last Christmas/New Years cruise in December 1996 which was also the last holiday cruise for the nearly 40-year-old Holland America line flagship. She was retired from Holland America line the following year, shortly after her farewell world cruise.
I had been cruising for many years before I boarded the S.S. Rotterdam for the first time in Vancouver, September 1995. I was instantly captivated by the cleverness with which innovation was integrated with tradition.
The thought came to me: “It’s a good thing I didn’t find this one first.” I may have never sailed on any other ship!
It is always very sad when a famous and cherished ship ends its days. It is miraculous for such a ship to be rescued from being grounded on the beach in Alang, India or sent to the breakers in China. So how very grateful are her devoted passengers who once took pleasure in languid cruises as well as those who may have never sailed but thanks to preservation are now able to savor the nostalgia of the S.S. Rotterdam. To still walk her decks and admire her public rooms proves that she is a most fortunate ship to have been so deservedly preserved.
So, when in Rotterdam, see her, enjoy her and imagine what it must have been like to have booked passage on the S.S. Rotterdam flagship of Holland America Line.
David Giventer is Ryndam’s future cruise consultant and photographer Ioana Cheregi is Ryndam’s human resources manager.