Holland America Line’s Rotterdam Sets Sail with World-Class Floating Art Gallery Valued at Over $4.1 Million
More than 2,500 pieces from dozens of global artists enhance the ship’s design
Seattle, Wash., Oct. 27, 2021 — Holland America Line ships have long been regarded as floating art galleries for their extensive collections of museum-quality pieces. When Rotterdam sets sail for the first time Oct. 20, 2021, guests are in for a visually rewarding journey with some of the most thought-provoking, striking and bold pieces in the fleet — including historical works and memorabilia from beloved previous sister ships.
Rotterdam’s art collection is valued at more than $4.1 million and was curated by Oslo-based YSA Design and London-based ArtLink, who collaborated with acclaimed hospitality design atelier Tihany Design. The result is a museum at sea with 2,645 pieces of diverse works ranging in value from $500 to $620,000 that spans the decks, public rooms and staterooms.
More than 37 nationalities are represented by Rotterdam’s artists, with the greatest number of contributors coming from the Netherlands, United States and United Kingdom. Artists also hail from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Republic of Korea, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine.
Many of the pieces focus on entertainment, showcasing themes of music, dance and movement, weaving the ship’s narrative of a “new sound of cruising” into the art. The works are in many media, including photography, painting, mixed media, illustration, prints and sculpture.
Holland America Line History Finds a Home on Rotterdam
Holland America Line’s newest Rotterdam is the seventh ship in the fleet to bear the name, and some previous works of art from Rotterdam VI, which left the company in 2020, have found a new home on the newbuild. Eight historical paintings are now on Rotterdam, including depictions of Rotterdam I, Rotterdam II, Rotterdam III, Rotterdam IV and Rotterdam V. The ship also hosts three previous Rotterdam ship models, and the bell from Rotterdam VI can be found in the Crow’s Nest.
Fun Facts, Figures and Highlights About Rotterdam’s Art Collection:
The largest and most expensive piece is “Harps,” a 7.5-ton stainless steel sculpture in the Atrium that spans three decks. With dynamic color-changing spot lighting and a mirrored ceiling, the work is a striking focal point on board. “Harps” was produced and designed by ArtLink, based on a concept by Tihany Design. It is valued at $620,000.
The smallest works are by Betty Pepper, who uses reworked books and adds intricate details and scenes made from old maps. They can be seen in the forward stairwell between decks 7 and 8. The exquisitely small elements are a testament to Pepper’s ability to work at a scale that few artists can master.
Each of the stairwells has a theme that reaches from top to bottom. The theme of the forward stairs is architecture, midship stairs is music and aft stairs is zoology.
The oldest artist is Baron Wolman (deceased), born in 1937. The U.S. native was the chief photographer for Rolling Stone magazine from 1967 until late 1970. He was ranked among the 20th century’s elite and most collectible photographers.
The youngest artist is Leva Berlande. The 31-year-old rising artist is a student from Latvia and has a painting featured in the Neptune Lounge.
Sel de Mer Wall mural
As with Rudi’s Sel de Mer on Nieuw Statendam, Master Chef Rudi Sodamin’s son and emerging artist Magnus Sodamin created a visually stimulating mural that adorns the wall in his father’s namesake specialty restaurant on Rotterdam. Called “Oceans Feast,” the work measures 23 feet long and 3.6 feet tall.
- Italian artist Federico Picci contributes conversation starters that tie in magically with the ship’s design. His photographs capture how music would look if we could not only listen to it but see it, too. In one image, balloons float out of a piano, representing the evanescence of something that evaporates in the air as it is created, like the element of sound.
- One of the most striking and expensive pieces is a dazzling, illuminated crystal “Key” (treble clef) created by Dutch artist Hans van Bentem for Deck 3, midship. The piece is valued at $27,000.
- Considered among the most avant-garde pieces in the collection is a fiberglass sculpture of an otter in the aft stairwell lobby on Deck 9 by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel. San Miguel is known for his distinctive style of colorful geometric patterns that portray animals, skulls, religious iconography and human figures.
- In the embarkation area is a work titled “Billie Holiday” by Ani Abakumova. It is made up of 3 miles of threads — 8,000 threads in total. Abakumova’s husband is a mathematician who developed an algorithm that enables her to create images from threads that change color without using paint.
- One of the most valuable works is a mixed media on canvas piece in the forward stairwell lobby on Deck 8 by Mehdi Ghadyanloo, an Iranian artist, painter and muralist known for his gigantic trompe l’oeil–style murals. Ghadyanloo recently had solo exhibitions in Almine Rech’s galleries in Paris and Brussels, and now Holland America Line guests can enjoy his captivating art.
- Yongsun Jang, from Republic of Korea, welds cross sections of stainless-steel pipes to configure clusters of “cells,” then puts it all together to represent different organic beings. For Rotterdam, he created cello and pan flute sculptures for the B.B. King’s Blues Club/Lincoln Center Stage space.
- The vibrant work of Lisa Krannichfield is on display in the Club Orange specialty restaurant. Her pieces meld the border between masculine and feminine and explore what it means to be fashionable and make a statement.
Guests can admire the decks inside and out and discover inspired works from a global assembly of emerging artists who share the spaces alongside some of the most renowned talent in the world.
October 28, 2021 at 11:11 pm
Where is Captain Albert? His blog seems to have been replaced by official press releases.
October 28, 2021 at 11:15 pm
Hello Captain Albert,
Looking forward to enjoying all these beautiful works of art when my daughter Tessa and I board the ship in Oct.2022 for the trans Atlantic crossing. Thank you so much for displaying and describing these amazing pieces.
October 28, 2021 at 11:49 pm
Thank you for showcasing the art. I was booked on the cancelled inaugural
Cruise, but will be able to see it on the transatlantic anniversary cruise.
I can hardly wait.
Appreciate your blogs, hartelijk bedankt en tot ziens
October 29, 2021 at 12:54 am
Thanks for the art/history lesson on Rotterdam VII, Kaptein! Much appreciated! Take care and be safe!
October 29, 2021 at 5:52 pm
Thank you, Captain Albert, for sharing this detailed & interesting press release, highlighting some of the art on the new Rotterdam. I love the varied art collections on Holland America ships & look forward to seeing these, in person, when I board the Rotterdam in December!
December 27, 2021 at 8:37 pm
HOLLAND AMERICA ROTTERDAM VII Caribbean Cruise December 1-12, 2021
My experience with Holland America Line (HAL) dates back to 1959 with subsequent HAL cruises in 1966, 2012, 2016 and now in 2021. I have also been on an American Export Line cruise, a Costa cruise and a Royal Caribbean cruise. With this cruise, I achieved HAL’s Three Star Mariner status.
The Origin of the Cruise
This journey started early in 2017 when we booked a Caribbean cruise on HAL’s Rotterdam VI from Tampa, Florida for14 nights. Because of surgery, we had to cancel that trip. We rebooked for Thanksgiving Day, 2020 (November 26) for 14 nights on the Volendam but because of the COVID Pandemic, that trip was cancelled. HAL automatically rebooked us on the Nieuw Statendam. This was to be a 14 night Caribbean trip but it was really two 7-night trips from Fort Lauderdale, Florida with two days at Half Moon Cay, a day back in Fort Lauderdale and other ports in which we were not interested. We made another change.
Rotterdam VII was the newest ship in HAL’s fleet having made its first cruise October 20, 2021. That was a transatlantic trip from Holland to Fort Lauderdale for the winter Caribbean season. The date is significant because it is also my wife’s birthday. Our new trip was only 11 nights, leaving December 1, 2021, but it covered much of what we originally wanted to see. Our cousins from North Carolina (Charlotte) said they would like to join us.
I had first cruised with HAL in 1959 from New York City to Rotterdam. The Netherlands on board the pre-World War 2 Nieuw Amsterdam. In the Rotterdam harbor was Rotterdam V waiting to make its first ever cruise. Our Rotterdam VI cruise had been cancelled. It was inevitable that Rotterdam VII would be our first cruise in five years.
THUMBS DOWN COVID 19 TESTING
Before we embarked, we were going to spend several days visiting relatives across the state of Florida. That presented us with our first problem: How do we get tested for COVID 19 before the trip? HAL recommended QUEST DIAGNOSTICS through their health protocols on HAL’S website.
Our boarding date was Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Our boarding time changed several times but finalized at 1 PM. We were happy with the time. Our cousins had synchronized their boarding time with ours and were happy with the time.
We booked a date/time for our COVID 19 test through QUEST DIAGNOSTICS. It was on Monday November 29, 2021 at 10 AM at a Walmart drive through pharmacy in Boynton Beach on Military Trail. The night before we stayed in Port St. Lucie about a 90 minute drive from our testing site. We arrived 15 minutes early for our tests. As we sat in our car, a pharmacist supervised the testing process through the Drive Through window. We were done in about 15 minutes. We placed our test samples in the box indicated by the pharmacist. Before we left, I specifically asked the testing supervisor how long would it take to get our results. He said “24 to 48 hours”. That meant about 10 AM on December 1, the day of our embarkation. I told him that was IMPORTANT as we taking a cruise on Wednesday. The timing was okay. This is where it all went wrong.
Through my tablet and the hotel’s computer, I kept checking QUEST’s website and my email for written confirmation. I checked every couple of hours through Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. NO TEST RESULTS were available by 11 AM on Wednesday. Through Cruise Critic, I knew that if we had proof of testing but no results, HAL could test us at embarkation. The stress of not knowing if we would be able to board was palpable. I DO NOT ENDORSE OR RECOMMEND QUEST DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES FOR TESTING.
Arriving at Port Everglades at Noon on December 1, we left our bags with a porter and entered the terminal. I explained our situation to the greeter at the entrance. She called over another staff member who escorted us to an area for testing. We took our tests and went to a waiting area. After 15 minutes, our name was called and we were given our test results. NEGATIVE!!!! We then were allowed to board.
My wife finally got her test results Thursday December 2, 2021 when we were on our second day at sea. On Friday, I received a note that QUEST DIAGNOSTICS COULD NOT FIND MY RESULTS!
SUCCESS LEADS TO BOARDING
I mentioned to the crewmembers greeting us on board that I felt like getting down on my knees to kiss the deck. I said that if I did, I would need a lot of help to to stand up. They laughed. However, it was true.
From the time we dropped off our bags at the terminal until we actually entered our cabin (1146, Main Deck, Inside), a total of less than 40 minutes had elapsed. Holland America deserves much credit for their handling of the testing and boarding process. It was an awesome start for what turned out to be an even better cruise. ROTTERDAM VII lived up to its hype.
ONCE ON BOARD
Our inside cabin (I-1146) on the Main Deck was located close the three story high Atrium near the middle of the ship. The Atrium is a magnificent centerpiece for the ship with a sculpture that soars through the three decks. The Internet Center was also located there.
Nearby were a few meeting rooms. The Stuyvesant Room was the room designated for our five nightly Hanukkah celebrations and two Friday night Shabbat services. HAL provided prayer books, two challah breads and two bottles of kosher wine for each night. HAL provided an electric menorah and electric candles for Shabbat services. They did not charge for that. Kudos HAL.
Our cabin was comfortable for the two of us with lots of outlets (US and USB) for keeping our devices charged up. We had the beds separated for our sleeping comfort. I asked for and received lighter blankets. There was ice if we needed it. I asked to have the mini-bar emptied so we could store medicine and protein shakes in the mini-refrigerator. It was done quickly. Our room stewards were Roby and Adi. They were always ready to assist us any way they could, always with a smile.
We are big people (not fluffy) and the ensuite bathroom was comfortable to use. The shower had an adjustable height showerhead with an adjustable spray. One issue, the razor outlet was covered and I could not open it. However, I did not need to use it so no big deal. The cabin had plenty of storage space (drawers) and the two closets had more than enough wooden hangers. There was a large digital TV but not a large selection of TV channels (no TV networks such as NBC, CBS, and ABC). Our two suitcases were stored under the beds. There were electric and USB outlets throughout the cabin so no problem charging devices. I had major connectivity issues the NAVIGATOR APP on my tablets and on the ship’s computers. I had paid in advance for WIFI for the whole cruise. That turned out to be a mixed bag – good price, lousy connectivity.
MASKS USAGE and OTHER HEALTH PROTOCOLS
MASKS WERE REQUIRED ALMOST EVERYWHERE on board as we were traveling in December 2021 with the COVID pandemic still in full swing. That did NOT pose any problems for us (80 and 78 year olds, male, female). Hand washing was required at the LIDO Buffet but not at the specialty dining venues or bars. Hand sanitizer stations were evident all over the ship. They were utilized frequently. At the buffet, the food was served by crewmembers but we experienced no long waits for food at breakfast or lunch, unless we had a custom made salad or omelet. That wait would have occurred under any circumstance. To the best of my knowledge, there were no positive COVID cases during the cruise. There were 1700 passengers and maybe 1,000 crew aboard.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
The food quality and quantity were up to, and maybe even better than, HAL’s standards. The variety may have been a little less but it was understandable under the COVID supply chain shortages.
We ate every breakfast in the LIDO Buffet. The bagels were very good (only had two, diet concerns) with lox and cream cheese. The made to order omelets were terrific. Asked for and received sour cream to which I added a banana. The staff behind the counters and the servers at the tables were friendly and efficient. Outstanding staff in the LIDO Buffet included Genesis, Nadia, Ayuk, Meredith, Luki, Azani and especially Rini. If you see them, say “hi” for us.
We ate dinner in the Main Dining Room for all but four dinners. Most often, we sat at table 80 with our two cousins and usually two strangers. Megan (male) was our table captain and the servers were Ali and Andhika. Hazel was the hostess every night at the entrance (lower level) and made sure we had the same table even though we had open seating. There were about 4 or 5 items every night that cost extra. They included jumbo shrimp, lobster and filet steak. The main courses changed daily, not 100%, but more than enough that we could pick and choose something different each time. There was a sugar free dessert each night. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free meals were present at all food venues.
Our first specialty dining took place at Canaletto where we celebrated my wife’s birthday. The food was excellent and plentiful. They made a special dessert for my wife’s celebration that we could all share. We had dined at previous Canaletto’s. It is located in an area that is part of the LIDO Buffet but was separate. It had many windows to see out of when it was light enough (Deck 9). The night we were there at 7 PM, maybe 20% of the tables were occupied. The staff were smiling and professionally top notch. It felt as if we were at an Italian trattoria in Florence. We were there in 2016 preceding our HAL cruise on the Oosterdam. Give yourself 90 minutes to enjoy the experience fully. Staff members to remember were Ana and Maria. RECOMMENDED.
Tamarind was our second “night out”. This was new to us as a venue. It is an Asian fusion specialty restaurant that included a bar (really good pina coladas, our first of the trip) and Nami Sushi Bar. It overlooks the stern of the ship on Deck 12. Staff members we want single out are Maria (again), Azani and Ayuk (again). The main courses were great. The five side dishes were included for the whole table (four of us). Again, take 90 minutes to two hours to fully enjoy it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Another new to us venue was Rudi’s Sel De Mare (on Deck 2), the brainchild of restaurateur Rudi Sodamin. It is basically a French bistro with an emphasis on seafood. However, I had steak tartare for my main course (ordered two appetizers) and my wife had a 12-ounce Maine lobster tail that was the best. (I went to college in Maine and ate a lot of lobster.) We celebrated the birthday of one of my cousins. They made him a special dessert to celebrate it. The hostess at the door was Genesis (LIDO). They treated us royally. Budget at least two hours for the best experience. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Our final extravaganza dining spot was The Pinnacle Grill on deck 2. It too had windows for when it is light enough to see out. This is primarily a steakhouse but other options are available. We had dined previously at Pinnacle Grills but this was far and away the best. My steak was done to perfection – tasty, tender. Impeccable service added to the two-hour experience. Our server was Boris who was friendly and efficient. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Just to reiterate, all dining venues had vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. One of my cousins is gluten free and she was happy with her choices. The servers and the kitchens were able to make many of the meals gluten free even if not listed as such. Because of my experience with specialty restaurants on previous cruises, I felt they had not been worth the extra expense. These four dining experiences changed my attitude. They were off-the-wall awesome.
We did have lunch twice at Dive-In Burgers and once at New York Pizza and Deli. The former offered hamburgers and Nathan’s Hot Dogs. I loved the burgers wrapped in lettuce (no buns for me) with cheese, bacon and frizzled onions. My wife enjoyed the Nathan Hot Dogs (no bun for her either). The fries were pretty good as well. The pizza my wife ate had very little cheese or pepperoni so she ordered four slices to get enough to eat. She scraped the toppings off the crust, which was NOT a New York pizza crust at all. I tried the Reuben (no bread) which also failed miserably in taste, quality and quantity. DIVE IN is RECOMMENDED. NY PIZZA and DELI is NOT RECOMMENDED.
The other days, we had lunch in the LIDO BUFFET. I had salads every day and the toppings were very tasty and varied. My wife also had some salads and some noodle dishes from the Asian section. She, too, loved her food. We did not have any desserts for lunch. One day I did have a chocolate chip cookie from the GRAND DUTCH CAFÉ. It was one of the best ever. Both venues are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
We are not alcohol drinkers so did not test any of the bars’ alcoholic beverages except for couple of pina coladas that were excellent.. My wife did have coffee, tea or soft drinks on numerous occasions from the bars. The service was timely and friendly.
We did not book any ship sponsored shore excursions except for one on ST. LUCIA. We took the 2.5 hour Scenic Byways Tour for about $30.00/person (US). It suited our needs, schedule and price. We are not beach people. We prefer the history and culture of a place. I bought some chocolate bars at one stop for our cabin stewards where the candy was made. RECOMMENDED.
On BARBADOS, we took a tour with Deborah Grant, a private tour operator who we found through Trip Advisor. (Her website is: https://chatbarbados.com). Deborah met us at the old Jewish synagogue in Bridgetown (our choice) a US$10 (plus a $2 tip) taxi ride from the cruise ship terminal. Deborah gave us a 15-minute history of the Synagogue and its significance in the history of Barbados. We were then left to tour the site on our own with a prerecorded tape and player. When we were done, we got into Deborah’s car and toured Bridgetown’s special places. She filled in a lot of the history of the places and people. One of the people many will recognize is pop singer Rihanna who was born and raised in Bridgetown. We drove by her restored childhood home. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My wife and I were married in 1967 and honeymooned in SAINT THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands. We were looking forward to returning that idyllic place. Through MISTERBILL99, whom we had met on CruiseCritic.com and on the ship, we joined a tour booked with Paradise Taxi (https://paradisetaxiusvi.weebly.com on Trip Advisor) in a private van with 12 others. The driver was Big Moe who came highly recommended. We saw many of the spots that we had visited 54 years ago. Some were closed by hurricane damage (Bluebeard’s and Blackbeard’s Castles and Hotel 1829). Others were open including Drake’s Seat, Mountain Top (home of the famous Banana Daiquiri, overview of the island and souvenirs) and the old Jewish Synagogue. The tour was just what we were looking for. Big Moe lived up to his advance billing as a guide. However, he was a little late for the start of the excursion and later, the pick up at Mountain Top (“island time” is to be expected). The cost started at USD$40/person but ended up at US$30/person. In our opinion, that was satisfactory. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Our first port of call was Phillipsburg in SINT MAARTEN the Dutch part of the island that also contains French St. Martin. To get to the city, we took the water taxi (US$7/person, roundtrip as often as you want) from the cruise pier. It took about 10 minutes and was worth every penny spent on it. We took a self-guided walking tour of the city. We visited many places including the House of Parliament, the Old Court House, an open-air street vendors market, Old Street (oldest part of the city) and the waterfront Boardwalk. Everybody we spoke to was happy to see tourists again. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Our fourth port was Roseau on DOMINICA. We did nothing on this island except to visit the vendors on the pier. The island is poorest of the Caribbean islands. It is known as the Nature Island but there was nothing that we wished to see. This was a last minute replacement for MARTINIQUE. We were looking forward to that French island. NOT RECOMMENDED.
After St. Thomas, our last port was SAINT KITTS. Once again, we decided to visit only the cruise port shops. There my wife found a very nice island themed dress for only US$15. She wore it on the ship’s second of two Gala Nights. It was a very nice outfit that she can wear even in Seattle, our home base. There were some places that we actually did want to see in Basseterre but were too tired to visit. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
We used our visit at HALF MOON CAY. HAL’s private island in the Bahamas as a sea day. We did not get off the ship. NO RECOMMENDATION.
While on board the Rotterdam VII, we did participate in many activities. Every morning at 7 AM, I went to the gym to use a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes while my wife showered. I actually lost two pounds on the trip thanks to the bike and all the walking. If you like to keep fit, then visit the gym. My wife got a manicure one day in the salon. Another day she got her hair done. In my estimation, her hair never looked better. She was very happy her visits. Both are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Every day at 4 PM, we played Trivia in the Billboard Lounge run by NICK, one of the assistant Cruise Directors. He was very good and became a friend. Every trivia quiz had at least one answer that was “Belgium”. Some mornings at 11 AM we did Lightning Trivia in the Explorer’s Lounge hosted by SHELLY another assistant. We never won but came close a couple of times. Both activities are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
One of HAL’s specialties is music. We were not disappointed by any musical event we attended. We listened to LINCOLN CENTER STAGE classical music performed by four 25 year-olds who had only met for the first time on October 4. Each show they got better and were warmly received by attendees. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
B.B. KING’S BLUES CLUB and ROLLING STONE ROCK ROOM both had great music and musicians. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
CANTARE performed a couple of shows in the World Stage Theater. They are a group of four men who sang all matter of songs acapella with a recorded instrumental track. They were definitely worth the visit. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The theater in itself is worth a visit. It is one of the most spectacular venues we have seen.
One day the shops had a clothing sale near the Lido Pool. We bought four Rotterdam VII tee shirts at US$15 apiece. Well worth the expense. I also bought a US$19.95 watch when they went on sale. It was my first new watch in 35 years. Good for exercising as it has a stopwatch function.
On the last sea day, I finally visited the Casino on board. I played Blackjack and walked away a winner. It was extremely smoky most of the time. HAL has now made it temporarily nonsmoking (until January 5, 2021). There were about 500 passengers on board to participate in a casino slot machine tournament. They even put slot machines in the Ocean Bar to accommodate them. Those were smoke-free. I hope that they will extend that ban. I do like to gamble but not in a smoke-filled environment. I have heard that 80% of the US population are nonsmokers. Cruise lines might like to look at that statistic. They could be missing a large potential audience. The smoke from the casino permeated most of decks two and three, making those places almost uninhabitable. If smoking is allowed, NOT RECOMMENDED.
OVERALL RATINGS FOR ROTTERDAM VII
CABIN 1146: 5 stars (out of Five Stars)
FOOD: 5 Stars
SHORE ACTIVITES: 4.5 Stars
ONBOARD ACTIVITIES: 5 Stars
MUSIC VENUES: 5 Stars
WIFI: 0 Stars
I would definitely book another cruise on ROTTERDAM VII and other HAL ships.