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organisation! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960
and worked from being an office boy to CEO of a major cruise company, but has
been long retired. Over the years, I have
written on well over 680 classic liners on ssmaritime.com providing classic ship
enthusiasts a great deal of information and pleasure! However, I
will continue to write cruise reviews and ship information in order to better
to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and thus provide the best possible
information available for those intending a luxury, an expedition or a happy
holiday cruise vacation somewhere in the Pacific,
The magnificent 21,148-ton SS Rotterdam IV joined the Holland America fleet in 1908 and continued to 1940 with HAL
From SS Ariadne & SS Rotterdam I, IV to SS Rotterdam V & other ships
(1872 to 2000)
The “Netherland’s America
Steamship Company” or in Dutch, “Nederlandsch Amerikaansche
Stoomvaart Maatschappij” (NASM) was officially founded on April 18, 1873,
in Rotterdam, but in due course it became better known as “Holland
America Line.” However, prior to this time the company had already begun
as a cargo line, but the company was known as “Plate, Reuchlin en
Co” and by 1871 they had already ordered the building of their first
actual passenger ship, being the SS Rotterdam I, which was being built by Henderson Coulborn
& Co, in Renfrew, England. However, due to ongoing delays with the builder, they were
forced to charter a British a relatively new, but a small built ship to
commence their new first Trans-Atlantic service to
SS Ariadne was chartered as the new SS Rotterdam’s completion had been severely delayed
Within a number of months the new 268.4ft
– 81.8m, 1,694-ton SS Rotterdam I was delivered and under the command of
Captain Jacob Hus and she set sail on September 7, 1872. She had accommodations for 8 first Class and
388 Third Class passengers, being mostly immigrants and there was a crew of 46.
The SS Rotterdam’s departure set in motion the beginning of what became
one of the world’s great shipping companies, one that remains with us to
this very day some 140 years later in 2013! Sadly, during her 65th.voyage from
we see the very
SS Rotterdam also had a
sister ship named the SS Maas, that was later renamed Maasdam. All future
passenger ships would end with the traditional Dutch “dam” that
became a feature of “Holland America Line” (HAL). Although the delightful Passenger-Cargo ships would usually end
with “dyk.” Obviously many ships followed over the years,
including Rotterdam II, III and the wonderful SS Rotterdam IV.
SS Rotterdam also had a sister ship named the SS Maas, that was later renamed Maasdam. All future passenger ships would end with the traditional Dutch “dam” that became a feature of “Holland America Line” (HAL). Although the delightful Passenger-Cargo ships would usually end with “dyk.” Obviously many ships followed over the years, including Rotterdam II, III and the wonderful SS Rotterdam IV.
The SS Rotterdam II was built by Harland &
In October 1986 this British ship was
purchased by “NASM” and considering they had lost
As In 1895, she was re christened SS Edam and
served for another four years until she was eventually broken up in
SS Rotterdam II – 1986 to 1895 - note the open topped bridge
Although this ship had excellent outdoor spaces for her passengers, her public venues onboard for Second Class were minimal and Steerage non existent. First Class had the following venues; on Promenade Deck, being the topmost deck, forward to aft. A small Ladies Salon forward and far aft a medium sized Smoking Room. On Main Deck is the spacious Main Salon (Lounge), but this also serves as the Dinning Room as there is a Galley and Pantry just aft of the Main Entrance/Lobby. In addition amidships there are two further First Class venues, but both are accessed from out on the deck. There the Barber Shop on the starboard side, and the Library & Reading Room portside, which is named the “Gallery.” First Class Twin bedded “State Rooms” are one down on “Spar” Deck. However, in the centre of the deck running the length of the cabins was seating with tables, rather unusual!
Second Class had a smallish Sitting Room aft on Main Deck, but otherwise no other venues. Their cabins were located just aft of the engine casing on Spar Deck. Cabins were either two or three berth. Again there was the seating and tables in the middle, and as there was a pantry and galley, it seems that this area also served as the dinning room.
Steerage occupied far aft and far forward of
Spar Deck. Aft offered cabins with eight berths each, whilst far forward it was
dormitories for 10, 20 or even 22 in a dorm with bunks. These were for migrant
heading for a new life in
The new SS Rotterdam being built was a simply magnificent and once again Harland & Wolff Belfast were the builders. This fine ship would soon make a huge impact on Trans Atlantic sailings and a huge name for the company, as this was a 24,170-ton ship that had a whole lot class!
SS Rotterdam IV was launched after various
hold ups, due ongoing strikes, on March 3, 1908. She was completed rather
quickly and delivered on June 13, the same year. SS Rotterdam IV departed on
her maiden voyage from
There was no doubt, she was one of the most magnificent and luxurious ships that HAL had ever built, and she set a new standard in style and fine accommodations, something that was soon copied by other British and European shipping companies. There where grand staircases with huge stained glass domes, beautiful Ionic pillars and fine timber clad walls, sourced from around the globe, as well as the best linens used, including the best porcelain, crystal and silverware.
SS Rotterdam offered 520 First Class
passengers, 555 in Second Class and 2,300 in Third Class. However, even Third
Class had some excellent lounges, but this part of the ship was mainly occupied
by immigrants heading for
Although the Dutch were not involved in WWI,
the SS Rotterdam proved to be a mighty warrior during war as she carried just
over a million American soldiers during, as well as arms, etc. Considering that
the Germans did not suspect a Neutral Dutch ship, thus the
When she was released for her wartime duties, she returned to service, but in 1929 she received a comprehensive refit and she became a delightful two class ship, now accommodating; 517 in First Class and 1,130 in Tourist Class. Finally, ten years later, at the end of 1939 she was laid up having sailed the equivalent of around 70 times around the globe. She was soon sold and broken up in 1940.
A very old postcard of SS Rotterdam IV
Also see colour image at the top of the page
Now we will “Go back to the future” and the days that many of us may well remember, but possibly not all of my younger readers, but the following ship is certainly one of Holland America Lines most notable liner built in the 1930s. OK, I was certainly not born for a little while yet, but, I was during the great days of the next great liner, and those that follow!
In the latter part of the 1930s, a new kind of grand Liner was being built, this was a ship that has been called by ship enthusiasts around the world to this day, as the most “Perfectly designed liner ever to be built,” and others say that she was “The best looking Trans-Atlantic Liner ever to be built.”
I do know that her interiors were simply out of this world, for they were so far ahead of any other ship built to date as she was one of the most elegant ships for her day, and frankly I would sail on her today, had she still been around!
Seen not long after being built, the superb SS Nieuw Amsterdam III … 1938 – 1974
She was famed for what may be called an
underdone Art Deco style, and her Restaurants were the most stunning as well
being two decks high with the ceiling and posts lined in gold and the famed
large band stand over the entrance. Originally she had a black hull with a gold
ribbon surrounding it, but later as cruising became more and more popular, she
received a grey hull. At all times, the two tall masts and yellow funnels with
the traditional HAL triple bands of green, white and green remained to the end
until she was sold to be broken up in 1974.
She was famed for what may be called an underdone Art Deco style, and her Restaurants were the most stunning as well being two decks high with the ceiling and posts lined in gold and the famed large band stand over the entrance. Originally she had a black hull with a gold ribbon surrounding it, but later as cruising became more and more popular, she received a grey hull. At all times, the two tall masts and yellow funnels with the traditional HAL triple bands of green, white and green remained to the end until she was sold to be broken up in 1974.
Sadly this image simply does this room no justice having dined in this great venue, for it is so grandiose! In the alcoves you would find
superb mosaics, and the simplicity, but elegant ceiling lighting, as well as the wall lighting fixtures where simply sublime.
the Main Entrance one level up, was a large Band Stand, where a wonderful band
would play in the evening softly
Over the Main Entrance one level up, was a large Band Stand, where a wonderful band would play in the evening softly
The is the First Class “Grand Hall” or Main Lounge, and the artworks are seen in etched glass, on the ceiling
And the huge mural by a famed artist on the wall as you can see. Even the back of the band stand is highly
Glossed and has some excellent artwork on it. This ship was known for its intricate detail and it was simply elegant!
This is the Writing and Reading Room, and instantly we can see that it does not look like an old fashioned room, for it
looks rather modern in fact. HAL’s artists used a special style of Art Deco here as they did in so many parts of
the ship to give it that special timeless look and that is why SS Nieuw Amsterdam’s interiors just never seemed to age
A fine view from the port side Bridge looking aft, with the new Holland America Lines Flagship the SS Rotterdam V having just passed
However, there are always the traditionalist among the passengers, especially on the Trans-Atlantic route, and thus this great
Ship did have the traditional heavy leather and beautifully timber clad “Smoking Room” in each class, whereas all other venues were
and certainly the happier places. But for the Caviar and
One of the grandest liners ever, the SS Nieuw Amsterdam seen as a cruise ship in her later days
The next two liners were laid down in
1949 as Trans Atlantic Passenger-Cargo liners, and were to be named the
The next two liners were laid down in
1949 as Trans Atlantic Passenger-Cargo liners, and were to be named the
These ships proved extremely economic to operate, being mainly due to having been designed as freighters, thus their original machinery remained. These comprised of two cross-compound General Electric steam turbines, which were built in 1945. They developed 8,500 SHP, double-reduction geared to a single screw. Their service speed compared with other passenger ships sailing at the time was slow, for they had a service speed of 16.5 knots, thus the crossing from Britain to New York took eight days; however, the daily fuel consumption was a mere 53 tons, making these ships great value for Holland America, in addition they usually fully booked and with good reason!
These ships were quite remarkable, for they were built as two-class ships, but amazingly they were essentially almost all Tourist Class. The truth is that Tourist Class passengers had the run of the vast majority of the ship, except for one section, and that was Boat Deck, for this was known as the “Exclusive First Class Penthouse Section” of the ship, and it was a most luxurious part of the ship indeed! Although, being Tourist Class Liners, and of such a high standard they proved to be a huge success for HAL and sailed on until the Trans-Atlantic passenger demand began to dry up due to air travel
The Ryndam was sold in 1973, and she become
the Epirotiki lines rather extremely modernised cruise ship, the SS Atlas,
whilst the SS Maasdam was sold earlier in May 1968 to the “Polish Ocean
Lines”, but she made her final HAL voyage on September 20, as she departed
Montreal under Holland America’s livery, and she was paid-off at
Rotterdam on September 29, 1968. She then headed for
SS Ryndam with her famed “slim-line” funnel
Painting by Hans Breeman - http://home.tiscali.nl/hansbreeman/photouk.htm
The planning of the fourth Statendam commenced in 1953, and it was quickly taking shape and as the drawings and details were being released to the public, it became obvious that this was going to be a fine ship with an incredible bow. There would be many new improvements incorporated into her design compared to the earlier sisters for this new, but as yet unnamed ship, for was just known as number 753. This ship she would be almost 10,000 tons larger than her last namesake and this extra size would allow a far superior hull design to any of the more recent HAL liners that essentially had hulls that were designed as passenger-cargo ships. Liner number 753 would be fitted with twin screws, and her service speed would be a good 19 knots compared to the 16 knots of the two beloved “The Economy Twins.” However, the internals of this new liner would follow similar lines of the aforementioned ships, the Ryndam and Maasdam, as the Tourist Class would again have the run of the ship, but this time all venues and accommodations would be of a much higher standard utilising some of the finest artisans that HAL could gather. Of course the boutique First Class section would be ultra luxurious!
She was built in a floating dock and named
Statendam during her delivery voyage to
She did see livery changes, later having a
dark blue hull and various funnel colours, but sadly in October 1982 she was
sold to Actus Investments Ltd, and placed under the
management of the French company Paquet Cruises. She had a good long life under
various guises, but due to her last owner, Premier Cruises going into
bankruptcy, this still beautiful ship was finally broken up in 2004 in Alang
The delightful SS Statendam, which became a very popular cruise ship
When the second ship finally came into service
HAL changed their schedule as follows:
Both ships had a very high standard of accommodation for 60 passengers, and there were beautifully decorated and furnished public venues, such as a lounge and bar, a smoking room, library and a dining room. Cabins ranged from suites, to two bedded rooms, some having the option for a third or even a fourth berth. There was ample deck space up on Boat Deck, Promenade Deck and down on Main deck, that also had space for sports aft.
Passenger-Cargo ships were always a popular
means of travel for many, as they took their guests to many interesting places
and in a leisurely way, as well being able to mix with the officers and staff,
especially in the dining room, and visiting the bridge was quite welcome whilst
at sea, etc. Eventually both ships were sold to
The SS Diemerdyk is seen with her original livery in
The SS Dinteldyk with her grey hull
Now we come to one of the most loved ships in recent history, for so many who will read this page will have sailed on the beautiful SS Rotterdam V a ship that that was originally considered to be rather controversial, due to the lack of a traditional funnel. Instead of a single funnel, her designers decided upon giving this sleek liner twin slender uptakes located aft of the ship, as her machinery was located aft. She was certainly not the first liner to place her engines aft, for that honour belongs to the revolutionary Shaw Savill budget (Immigrant) liner, the SS Southern Cross.
However, the funnel controversy was short lived for soon a good number of passenger liners, including the famed 1961 P&O liner SS Canberra copied the trend that had been set by the SS Rotterdam.
SS Rotterdam seen during her first sea trails on July 12, 1959
there was something unique about this ship, something that no other ship on
earth could boast! And this was that the
there was something unique about this ship, something that no other ship on
earth could boast! And this was that the
Here we see the famed “secret” stairwell – This is a ship built in the 50s, yet looks as modern as tomorrow!
SS Rotterdam is known worldwide as “The
Grande Dame,” and she was launched by HM Queen Juliana in a grand gala
ceremony on September13, 1958, and completed in July 1959. The
SS Rotterdam departed Rotterdam for her maiden
voyage on September 3, 1959, bound for New York and she very rapidly became one
of the most successful and loved ships, which was due to HAL’s
reliability, and also as they are well known as being the “Spotless
Fleet” for Dutch cleanliness is of the utmost importance with HAL,
and it remains so to this day! Although in due course the Trans Atlantic market
slowed down dramatically and she was more and more employed as a cruise ship, and
eventually she became a full time cruise ship. Her “Around the World
Voyages” became much sought after and she called on
Sadly, something that I and countless
ship lovers, as well as travel agents and other shipping company management
genuinely believe, that a tragedy occurred to Holland America Line, when in
1989 that Carnival Cruises took over the great and much loved company of
Holland America Line.
Sadly, something that I and countless ship lovers, as well as travel agents and other shipping company management genuinely believe, that a tragedy occurred to Holland America Line, when in 1989 that Carnival Cruises took over the great and much loved company of Holland America Line.
But thankfully, unlike every other shipping
company that sold out to Carnival, the Dutch did stand firm on so many
conditions, such as that all their ships must remain Dutch, thus registered in
An early HAL publicity photo of the SS Rotterdam V - 1960
Above & below: The magnificent grand Ritz Carlton Ball Room
Here we see the superb grand golden aft dining room (Tourist Class), later when the ship became One Class it was named “La Fontaine”
SS Rotterdam seen arriving to her homeport
the truth is that HAL is one of the superior products, and Carnival would only
ruin this superb company if they could, just as they have already done with
Princess Cruises, P&O UK and P&O Australia, and sadly even Cunard Line,
and their other lines, etc, for Carnival has a simple motto in relation to
their passengers (they are not their Guests), and that is “Get as much
money out of them as you can!” - Thus to me the name Carnival simply
means – “PURE GREED!”
Thus the truth is that HAL is one of the superior products, and Carnival would only ruin this superb company if they could, just as they have already done with Princess Cruises, P&O UK and P&O Australia, and sadly even Cunard Line, and their other lines, etc, for Carnival has a simple motto in relation to their passengers (they are not their Guests), and that is “Get as much money out of them as you can!” - Thus to me the name Carnival simply means – “PURE GREED!”
To date HAL has remained clear of Carnivalisation on their smaller ships, but sadly as I sailed on one of their Carnival Vista ships, the ms Oosterdam (February 2013), and I did note quite a bit of Carnivalisation had occurred onboard, for let face it, Carnival intends to win and eventually overpower these stubborn Dutch.
A painting of the SS Rotterdam with her cruising blue hull and seen at the International Passenger Terminal
At Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney Australia during one of her many World Cruises
The superb SS Rotterdam was one of the most successful passenger ships of all time, with her career spanning a good forty years, but sadly she was sold in 1997 to Premier Cruises by Carnival, as Carnival felt that this ship no longer suited the “Carnival image and style”, even though she was not even their ship, but a Holland America Line ship. But tragically, they did have some control of ship design, etc. As soon as the news came out, HAL passengers by the thousands sent protests to Carnival and HAL, but take note, Carnival does not listen to passengers, for unless you are paying a deposit for your next cruise, you are a nobody, for only your hard earned money counts!
The SS Rotterdam was renamed the Rembrandt,
which was a good alternative and she commenced sailing around
But then suddenly, on September 13, 2000, the
As soon as the author heard what had happened
to the Rembrandt, ex
There were up’s and downs, but
eventually a Dutch organisation obtained her to have restored to become a
hotel, function and tourist venue in
SS Rotterdam, looking simply magnificent
The completely restored SS Rotterdam is seen arriving home on August 4, 2008
The 38,645-ton SS Rotterdam … 1959 – 1997 & Premier Cruises SS Rembrandt 1997 to 2000
She has been fully renovated and restored to her original 1959 state and is now a superb Hotel in Rotterdam Holland
Recently “De Rotterdam” was
sold by her owners for 29.9 million Euros to a large Dutch Hotel Company
“WestCord Hotels” who also own the famed and historic “Hotel
New York”, which is based in the original Holland America Line Head
Office on the Actual HAL wharf. Thus with this
great ship saved, we can now all go and spend some time onboard, spend a hour
or two, a night or a week, but what ever time you will stay, be assured you
will be onboard the very same ship that departed Rotterdam in 1959, as when she
was restored, they brought her back to those wonderful days, although there are
a few new features of course!
Recently “De Rotterdam” was sold by her owners for 29.9 million Euros to a large Dutch Hotel Company “WestCord Hotels” who also own the famed and historic “Hotel New York”, which is based in the original Holland America Line Head Office on the Actual HAL wharf. Thus with this great ship saved, we can now all go and spend some time onboard, spend a hour or two, a night or a week, but what ever time you will stay, be assured you will be onboard the very same ship that departed Rotterdam in 1959, as when she was restored, they brought her back to those wonderful days, although there are a few new features of course!
Do you know what the ships are on the
It is obvious that I could and would not cover every single detail of this great company nor all of their delightful ships of, thus the above is just a capsule of Holland America Line and some of their magnificent ships. However, I may possibly one day expand on this theme and do a far more comprehensive feature, covering all their passenger liners and ships of the past, including their delightful passenger-cargo liners!
Dear reader, if you are planning on going on a cruise, I certainly recommend Holland America Line, for I am sure you will know that they are one of the most highly awarded Cruise Company in the World. One award alone HAL has received for 20 years in a row, from one of the finest shipping source, and these can be seen on the HAL ships features online, which soon will be updated. But before you book a cruise, please take note of the following!
My personal preference is for Holland
America’s delightful smaller ships, such the sublime Explorer Class, the
super luxurious 38,100-ton ms Prinsendam that only has 835 guests in spacious
accommodations. Or go on one of the four wonderful S-Class ships, being the
Statendam, Maasdam Ryndam and Veendam. These lovely ships average at around
55,500-tons and accommodate just 1,250 Guests and have some 600 crew. Then
there are the four R-Class ships, being the epic ms Rotterdam VI, Volendam,
After the aforementioned ships comes all HAL’s BIG Carnival style ships, and personally, they are just too big, and thus they have many more passengers onboard up to 2,104 guests. However, when we sailed on the ms Oosterdam from Sydney on February 6, 2013 on a 14 night cruise around New Zealand, we where advised by both the captain and cruise director that there were “over 2,000 passengers aboard”, which angered me, because all HAL promotional material clearly states that the Oosterdam only “Serves 1,916 guests.” Thus, I consider that false advertising, and feel that Carnival is intruding, for it feels like a Carnival trick!!!
I have sailed on the smaller ships and now have come home from a voyage on the Oosterdam. Although the service was superb, the cuisine delicious, entertainment, good, but not as good as on the smaller ships, Oosterdam’s interiors is just unbelievably beautiful, but I would never sail on her again and the reason for this will be fully spelled out below at the bottom of the page, but more fully in my Oosterdam Cruise review.
Please make sure that you choose a ship that
is right for you, if you are young and want to drink, get drunk and just party,
If you have problems walking and/or use a walking aid, do NOT go on any of HAL’s larger ships, such as the V-Class such as the ms Oosterdam and her sisters the ms Noordam, Zuiderdam and Westerdam, or the ms Nieuw Amsterdam and her sister the ms Eurodam, for they are simply not suitable ships for those with those with walking problems, believe me I found this out myself, as I came home a wreck, from what should have been a relaxing vacation but my voyage became a private hell. The problem is simply the massive distance between various places; I love Crow’s Nest and the Library, both being far forward on the top of the ship. The Vista Restaurant is far aft below, although there are many lifts, but the distance from forward to aft is just too much and you end up walking it many times a day. If you do book on one of these ships, do try to get a cabin in the middle of the ship!
Thus stay with the ships I mentioned above, for they are simply wonderful and a great size as well I found the service far more personal!
Maritime Historian, Cruise’n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer.
Commenced in Passenger Shipping in 1960.
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