Setting Sail on the MS Rotterdam

The European adventure that began with Keukenhof and Bruges took us next by train to Rotterdam in the Netherlands to board our ship, the ms Rotterdam, for a 14-day cruise to Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar.


Our ship, the ms Rotterdam

My research of ground transportation in these three countries led me to the perfect itinerary on the Holland America Line. As I’ve said before, if you want an introduction to a broad area and to sample places within it, a cruise is more efficient and affordable than arranging your own transportation, lodging, and meals. Then when you find your favorite places within the itinerary, you can always return and immerse yourself for a longer period.


Setting sail is always exciting and this trip was no exception.


Setting sail from Rotterdam


Rotterdam from the ms Rotterdam


Charming windmill in Rotterdam through a dirty window

We enjoyed scenes of Rotterdam, a city totally rebuilt following WW2, from the ship but when we reached the North Sea, the captain announced we would turn back to deliver a passenger with a medical emergency. Then a short while later, he announced a helicopter would instead evacuate the passenger. This was the first of three medical evacuations that  occurred on this cruise which caused a ship staff person to tell a friend of ours that she had worked on this ship for 10 years and had seen a total of three medical evacuations in all that time. Until now, when her experience doubled within two weeks.


Rescue helicopter approaching

Following the excitement, we settled in for two days at sea which allowed us plenty of time to explore the ms Rotterdam.


Jim relaxing in our cabin


Our cabin


Our cabin

We usually cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line and this was just our second cruise on the Holland America Line. I choose cruises by a combination of itinerary and price and this one fit both criteria. Both NCL and HAL offer good service; clean, well-maintained ships; high-quality food; and good entertainment. HAL has a bit of an edge, however, with a sofa and bathtub in their standard ocean-view cabins and pay washers and dryers where passengers can do their own laundry. For a two-week cruise, that laundry option is especially important.

The ms Rotterdam, previously the Holland America Line’s flagship, is a beautiful, elegant ship with a capacity of 1400 passengers and 600 staff.


ms Rotterdam


Poolside area


Enclosed pool area with the retractable roof closed

With several sea days on this itinerary, we were able to enjoy the hot tub on the ship. None of us swam in the pool but many of the intrepid Dutch passengers seemed to enjoy it.


Lori and I ready to visit the hot tub


Jim, after the hot tub


The roof retracted on the pool deck


Art treasures on the ms Rotterdam


More original ancient art on the ms Rotterdam


ms Rotterdam


Casino on the ms Rotterdam


Entertainment in the theater


Theater on the ms Rotterdam


Rick, Lori, and I in the theater

A new offering in our cruise  experience, the ms Rotterdam offered bridge lessons on our days at sea. We were “game” to try it and became regulars in class. Jeff, the instructor, was very helpful and soon became a friend and we enjoyed his company off the ship while on excursions as well.


Jim, Rick, and Lori practicing our bridge game


Our instructor, Jeff, assisting our group at bridge


View from the bow of the ms Rotterdam

We especially enjoyed the cooking demonstrations we attended with recipes provided for such dishes as Classic Spanish Paella, Saffron Shrimp and Stuffed Cherry Peppers, and Portuguese Mini Lemon-Orange Cakes.


One of several cooking demonstrations we attended

I’ll devote an entire post later to the outstanding food we enjoyed onboard but meanwhile, here are a few scenes from the main dining room.


Main Dining Room


Main Dining Room

A favorite special touch aboard the ms Rotterdam was the rug in the elevator which was changed daily. The rug announced the day of the week to us, a helpful aid on a long cruise when you have no responsibilities but enjoyment.


Day of the week rug in the elevator

After two days at sea, we felt very comfortable with our home away from home on the ms Rotterdam and ready for our first port of call, A Coruña, Spain. Come back next week to read about it.


Taken from events in April and May 2016.





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