Celebrating 150 Years: A Day Aboard the Rotterdam in New York City

Holland America Line cruise ship sailing in front of New York City landscape.

It’s not very often a company celebrates its 150th anniversary, and just as rare is the opportunity to work for one. As the new blog manager for Holland America Line, I recently had the opportunity to board the newest ship in its fleet before its transatlantic voyage to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, retracing (in reverse) its original journey 150 years ago. To step foot on a Holland America Line ship is to immerse yourself in elegance, luxury and a history that is awe-inspiring. Here’s a recap of some of my favorite moments aboard the MS Rotterdam.

View of person showing excitement, pointing at Holland America Line cruise ship in port.

The Ship

I could barely contain my excitement as Holland America Line’s newest Pinnacle Class ship made her way to Pier 88, navigating the foggy mist that hovered over the New York City harbor on April 6. As marvelous as she is majestic, the Rotterdam is 984 feet long, nearly 115 feet wide and hosts up to 2,668 guests.

She is both modern and timeless, accented with fine art and creative décor that would delight anyone who loves music, poetry and travel. The passion and dedication of those who poured their hearts into her design were undeniable as I toured the vessel. From the grand staircase to decks named after legendary musicians, the Rotterdam boasts beauty and grace. And that spirit continued to the stateroom, which felt like a sanctuary – despite being feet away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan area – overlooking the incredible New York City skyline.


There are many activities to enjoy while aboard the Rotterdam, and at the top of my list was pickleball. New to the sport making headlines and captivating the hearts of nearly 40 million people, I joined Jelle Walsma, sports director, for a lesson. The great news:  it was easy to learn and a lot of fun to play.

Person holding pickleball paddle and serving ball on court on Holland America Line cruise ship.

Here are some quick tips from Jelle to help you get started:

(1) Go in with an open mind.
(2) Don’t think too much about what you should do – just listen to your coach and have fun.
(3) Move up to the line as quickly as possible.
(4) Stay out of the kitchen. That means avoid the 7-ft non-volley zone on each side of the net, which prevents players from standing there to smash every hit.

With these tips in mind, don’t hesitate to join a pickleball game the next time you cruise.

Person in chef uniform holding dessert.

Next-Level Dining

During my visit, I was delighted with a savory meal that included the best filet mignon I’ve ever had. In fact, it was so good I had it on two different occasions! I was also thrilled to meet Chef Jacques Torres, who made a surprise appearance on the ship that day. To say this was a sweet meet-and-greet is an understatement. Torres is an iconic chocolatier and pastry chef who is also a member of Holland America Line’s Culinary Council®. As a lover of chocolate, I was spoiled when Torres hosted a cooking demo for us.

I didn’t waste a single bite, though I felt partially guilty because the presentation was truly a work of art. Spoiler alert: That feeling of guilt quickly subsided once I indulged. You can find Torres and other members of the Culinary Council® on select Culinary Cruises. And if you’re a fan of filet mignon, check out the Pinnacle Grill. I’m seriously a fan for life.

Origin Story

What better time to learn about Holland America Line’s magnificent history than on the World Stage during its 150th anniversary? Featured on large LED screens that envelop the audience on an awe-inspiring journey, “Origin Story” serves as a visual telling of the company’s history from its founding through present day.

View of Holland America Line's Origin Story onboard presentation at World Stage.

Photo by Ethan Barber

This is a staple on every Holland America Line cruise, and something guests won’t want to miss. The pride you feel in choosing to sail with (and in my case, work for) Holland America Line is undeniable after watching this presentation.

Band playing on board Holland America Line cruise ship.

Music & Entertainment

What better way to wrap up my top five moments aboard the Rotterdam than with a highlight of the incredible music and entertainment programming onboard?! After all, the ship’s very essence is a tribute to the universal language of music.

I gravitated toward B.B. King’s Blues Club, which is a beautiful nod to classic soul and rock & roll. You can’t help but sing along with the band and groove to timeless musical tunes that have captivated generations.

Learn more about Holland America Line’s history in honor of the company’s 150th anniversary. And check out the many cruises to choose from to help you embark on your next great adventure.


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