- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Rotterdam (I)

TONNAGE IN BRT: 1,694            NRT:  1,152              DWT: 1,524

BUILT AT: Henderson Coulborn & Company, Renfrew, Scotland.

BUILT IN: 1872                                                  YARD NO:  127

ENGINES: One four cylinder compound steam engine by yard.

ENGINE OUTPUT: 1,300 Ihp.                            PROPS: One (fixed)

SERVICE SPD: 10,5 Knots.                                MAX.SPD: approx. 11 knots.

LENGTH.O.A: 81.84 Meters.                             LENGTH.PP: 77.72 Meters.

BEAM OA: 10.69 Meters.                                   DEPTH: 8.69 Meters.

PAX.CAPACITY: 8 in First Class and 288 Third or steerage class.

CREW:   46.

SISTERSHIPS:  ss Maas (later Maasdam (1)

REMARKS:  Bunker capacity 1524 tons of coal.



Rotterdam 1871

The ss Rotterdam (I) with the funnel markings of the  founding company Reuchlin & Plate.

            Constructed of iron with two full decks. Could be rigged as a brig with 10 sails. She was ordered on 11 February 1871 with the keel laid on 22 June 1871 for the Dutch company Plate, Reuchlin & C.V. of Rotterdam, the forebear of the Holland America Line. The hull was baptized and launched on the 6th. of June 1872 by Jacoba Helena Hus, the daughter of Captain Jacob Hus, the first master of the ship.

Delivered on the 7th. of  September1872 to C.V. Plate Reuchlin & Company of Rotterdam at a cost of £ 30,000. Due to a labor strike at the yard the delivery of the ship was considerably delayed. She commenced her maiden voyage on the 15 October 1872 sailing from Rotterdam via Plymouth to New York with on board 10 Cabin class passengers and 60 emigrants. 600 tons of cargo was carried. The crossing was made in 14 days and 6 hours. This was also the first voyage of an own ship for the company. The ship leaves New York on the 5th. of November to return to Rotterdam.


The identical ship but now with the funnel markings of the NASM.

On 1 May 1873 ownership is transferred to the Noord Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij of Rotterdam, later also known as the Holland America Line. This was caused by the fact that the company went public to attract more money. The NASM remained the official nme until 1896, but from the beginning onwards everybody called it the Holland America Line.

Some excitement occurred in 1876 when on 28 January the New York Times reported that the wellknown “Boston Forger” Mr. E.D Winslow, had escape from the United States to Holland by taking passage on the ss Rotterdam. He had with him his family of 3 persons, a Bankers draft for 3,700 Dutch Guilders and $ 200,000 in Gold coins. He was followed in hot pursuit by two Detectives but they only traced him to the Holland America docks by the time the ship had sailed. As the USA had no extradition treaty with the Netherlands, his escape was complete. No records have been found sofar which indicates how he fared at the other side of the North Atlantic Ocean.

On 29 November 1879 the New York Herald reported that the arrival of the ship created quite a stir as she arrived minus her foremast and her steerage quarters completely wrecked. The ship had left Rotterdam on November the 8th. and should have arrived, with good weather, in New York on the 20th. Some ferocious weather had caused considerable damage to the ship and had resulted in a delay of 6 days as she docked on the 26th. November. There were no reports about any casualties.

In the Spring of 1883 the ship is refurbished and new boilers are installed at the yard of the  Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij in Rotterdam. (2,040 Brt.) this improvs the fuel consumption considerably. The ship returns to service but only makes a few crossings.

On 26 September 1883 the ship strands on the Zeehondenbank near the Dutch Island of Schouwen in position 51o 41’ 08 North, 03o36’50 East. All the 56 passengers are saved by the local life boat the “Zierikzee” (A local fishing vessel, adapted for this purpose) and landed safely ashore. The crew arrives shortly after having being transferred to the tugboat Nieuwesluis which had been send out after the stranded ship had send out a request. Later on a 2nd tugboat, the Hellevoetsluis is dispatched. However the ship was sitting so high up on the bank that very little could be done.

Then the weather turned for the worse and the abandoned ship breaks into two pieces on 12 October due to the pounding waves building up over the sandbank and eventually the hull disappears under the sea. Any salvageable items are sold by public auction on 29 October 1883. Some remains of the wreck are still there, located in 5 meters deep water and it sometimes visited by local divers.

Past Captains of the Ship:

Jacob Hus                                                        15 Oct. 1871 – 16 Feb. 1874

Johannes Janzen                                              16 Feb. 1874 –  24 Jul. 1875

Gerardus Johannes Vis                                   24 Jul. 1875 –  ?? Feb. 1878

Theodore Marie Lucas                                    ?? Feb. 1881 – 15 Jun. 1881

Jules Louis Arnault d’Hamecourt                   15 Jun. 1881 – 02 Jun. 1882

Samuel Jacob Krijt                                          02 jun. 1882 – 26 Sep. 1883

For more information about the captains see: Captains of the Past section.


  1. Author’s archive
  2. Newspaper archive of the Royal Dutch Library in the Hague.
  3. Holland America Archives: Gemeente Archief Rotterdam.
  4. New York Times Archives
  5. New York Herald Archives
  6. www.thewrecksite.com
  7. Pictures are from the authors archives


  1. Goodafternoon,

    I am searching for the passengerslist of septembre or octobre 1912. I search for mr Charles Henri Labouchere 1880-1966. He was a horse jumper. His trip was from Rotterdam to New York.

    • Good morning,

      If you live in Holland and not too far from Roterdam, I suggest a visit to the Hal Archives held by “het gemeente Archief”
      Schiedijk 651 Rotterdam. All passenger contracts between 1900 and 1940 are electronically available on the local computer.
      Filed by ship and by year. With he help of the staff it should not take you more than 20 minutes. I can have a look as well, but not until May at the earliest when I am back in Holland.

      thank you for reading my blog.

      Captain Albert

  2. Good evening
    I am researching the life of a relative who travelled on the Rotterdam to New York in August 1882. Please could you advise me whether the Rotterdam would have sailed from Rotterdam direct to New York or would there have been any other ports of call on this route in August 1882. I am particularly interested in whether the ship started its journey from Rotterdam

    Thank you very much for any help you may be able to offer
    United Kingdom

    • Good evening, (at least that is the time your query came in)

      Thank you for visiting my blog. I do have some information. The Rotterdam (I) made one voyage in August 1882. This was voyage 64 and it went directly from Rotterdam to New York leaving the port of Rotterdam on Aug 05. It was not until 1888 before HAL ships started to call at other ports for passenger purposes. They might have called occasionally at another port for operational reasons such as loading coals. Especially Plymouth, Falmouth and Halifax were very popular. I have not found any records yet to confirm that the Rotterdam did this during voyage 64. The captain during the voyage was Samuel Jacob Krijt who commanded her from 1882 to 1886. The arrival date in NY I am still trying to confirm as I have three dates currently: Aug. 19, 21 and 22. If you have any other queries, let me know and I will try to help.

      I hope this helps.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert.

  3. Dear Capt. Albert

    Thank you very much for the information which is most interesting and helpful. I think the Rotterdam arrived into New York on 20 August 1882. The “New York Times” dated
    21 August 1882 stated the following:
    New York – The steam ship City of Berlin, from Liverpool, landed 515 immigrants at Castle Garden. Rotterdam, from Rotterdam, 292, making a total for yesterday of 807.

    Please may I trouble you with a few more queries?
    Do you know the approximate financial cost of a steerage ticket on the Rotterdam in 1882 to New York?
    Do your records give an indication of the time of day at which the Rotterdam sailed on 5th August 1882?
    From your knowledge of shipping movements in this period – do you know approximately how long it would take to sail from the north Kent coast (Gravesend area) and London to Rotterdam?

    My reasons for asking these rather odd questions is that I am trying to establish a timeframe for my relative who left Kent on 3rd August 1882 and re-appeared in Manitoba three weeks later. I am confident that he is recorded on the manifest of the Rotterdam and if I can, reasonably, make all the dates agree – I will be able to conclude that I have traced his route to Canada from Chatham in Kent.

    I am appreciative of your time in helping me with this piece of my research

    Thank you

    • No problem, always willing to help:

      Thank you for the date of 20 Aug. a 15 day crossing was not unusual.

      Steerage class ticket was $ 25 in 1883 (I do not have a price list for 1882) without a train ticket attached. (the company also sold tickets in conjunction with the rail roads so you had already paid for everything to your final destination. The ships normally sailed from Rotterdam at noon time, but it could depend on the tide if they were fully loaded. I have not been able to find any records yet for 1886 (that is why I am not certain about the arrival date) and I do not know if they exist as a lot of archive was damaged during the floods of 1953.

      The (night) boat from London to Rotterdam (mostly done by the Batavier Line) would take about 16 hours in good weather and no delays.
      The manifest records in the Hal archives run from 1900, thus you would have to rely on the records from Castle Garden.

      I hope this helps.
      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  4. Dear Captain Albert

    Thank you very much for the additional information which, again, is really helpful and gives me ideas for more research and finding out about the Batavier Line and its operations from London and Tilbury.

    Best wishes

  5. laura Bartleson

    December 7, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I am trying to get information about the Rotterdam that arrived in New york on April 14, 1919. I have a ships log issued by the government. It lists names of passengers, ( a long list of relatives named Jansma) amount of cash on them, destination, health report, occupation, sponsor in US if any and who paid for their trip. But in trying to put together a family history I am getting conflicting reports about how many passengers were on the ship and whether there was a very large number of troops on board, returning from the war…. numbers reported by relatives range all the way from 400 to 3,000! Yikes! Do you have a source for info about the capacity of the ship at that time? Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Laura B.

    • Thank you for reading my blog & visiting my website.

      You are in luck as the records for this voyage were saved. (Much was destroyed during the floods in Rotterdam in 1953). and I have the figures with me on my computer.

      So here are the details:
      ss Rotterdam Voyage 65, Captain Jan Baron:
      Ship left Rotterdam on 29 march, called at Plymouth/England on 30 and 31 march. Called at Brest/France on 01 and 02 April. Arrived at New York on 10 April and departed again on 23 April.

      On board:
      363 first class (including 305 officers embarked in Brest)
      189 2nd class
      13 3rd class
      2010 dormitories. All embarked in Brest
      It was normal in those days that the officers travelled first class, NCO’s 2nd class, Petty Officers 3rd class and the soldiers in dormitories.
      Looking at this number of 2010 (which means they used the cargo holds as dormitories) it looks like these were regular soldiers. Had it been displaced persons or wounded the numbers would have been lower due to the space and attendants needed.

      The date of 14 April you have for your family would have been the date they were processed by immigration.
      I hope this answers your questions.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  6. I think my great grandfather, Joseph Watters sailed on the SS Rotterdam. I have a letter dated March 16th 1914 with a hand written heading that says SS Rotterdam on the Mediterranean. I was wondering if you could find some information about this cruise. Maybe departure and arrival ports and a passenger list. Thank you in advance for any information.

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      That was in those days the only cruise the HAL did. Every year a Med cruise from New York to the Holy Land.This one was the last one before the war. I do not have a passenger list in my files but I have pulled out of my database the following:

      This was cruise 44 and the Commander was Capt. Geert Stenger.
      The ship left Rotterdam for a regular trans atlantic crossing on 17 January and arrived in New York on the 02 of February.
      The cruise then commenced on 09 February and called at the following ports: Funchal, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Algiers, Athens, Constantinopel, Haifa, Jaffa, Haifa (pick up the overland tour), Jaffa ( pick up the overland tour),Alexandria, Jaffa (another tour), Alexandria (overland Luxor tour),Naples, Villefranche, Boulogne Sur Mer (guests left here for Paris) Rotterdam (29 march arrival). (Guest would either continue in Europe or wait for the next ship back to New York) your letter was written between Alexandria ( 14 march) and Naples (17 march)

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  7. Dear Captain Albert
    Thank you so much for this information.
    Best regards
    Robert Wordell

  8. I am researching an ancestor’s trip to Europe from April to July 1912. Her brief diary indicates that the ship arrived in Rotterdam on April 26. Unfortunately she doesn’t name that outbound ship (she subsequently named the inbound ship and I have it’s passenger list). Since she returned to the Port of New York (and that is where family traveled from) I assume the outbound ship also sailed from there. I am hoping not only to know what ship but the passengers on board. Any assistance you can give me will be most appreciated. As I live in New York, to the Netherlands is not an option.

    • Good morning,

      thank you for reading my blog.

      The only Holland America ship which arrived in Rotterdam in 1912 on April 26 was the ss Rijndam. She was on a return voyage from New York (voyage 97) and sailed directly from New York (departure on 16 April) for Rotterdam. The Captain was Pieter van den Heuvel (photo also on my blog) The ship had 69 in first class, 105 in 2nd class and 345 in 3rd class on board. As far as I know there is no passenger list of this voyage on file. As the Lady sailed from NY. she most likely made her booking there and no records of american sales are kept in the HAL archives in Rotterdam.

      I hope this helps.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert.

  9. Thank you so much for providing the name of the ship – that offers some information and now that I have this name I will search Port of New York records to see if there are passenger lists. Your information is most helpful and I am delighted to know what ship she sailed on.

  10. Dear Captain Albert

    I have just discovered that a relative of mine left Plymouth for New York on the 19/10/1919. Travelling on the Rotterdam (Holland America). Would you know the date of arrival in New York and would I be able to get hold of a passenger list?

    Thank you

    • Good morning,

      This is the information that I have for the period 10 october to 24 november 1919.
      I think your 19/10/1919 date is wrong for the departure from Plymouth as it is close to the arrival date in New York.

      Ss Rotterdam: Voyage 69 captain Jan Baron. Departed Rotterdam on 10 October 1919, calling at Boulogne Sur Mer at 10 October, arriving at Plymouth on 11 October and departed on 12 October. Arrived in New York on 20 October. Departed from NY on 14 November and on the way back called again at Plymouth and Boulogne Sur Mer for an arrival in Rotterdam on 24 November.
      I am not aware of a passenger list for this voyage in any of the archives but Ellis Island should be able to supply a ships manifest with all the names. I assume from the departure that that your relative boarded in Plymouth for the crossing. That makes it very uncertain if there is any information in the Dutch company archives as only the continental bookings were kept there.

      I hope this helps

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  11. Geachte Kapitein Albert
    Mijn familie, Grietje Pijper geb. 1850, met haar man Bonne Roggeveld geb. 1844, samen met 4 kinderen, zijn in 1881 vertrokken naar Amerika waarschijnlijk met de SS Rotterdam.
    Ik kan nergens een inscheeplijst vinden, weet U of die verloren zijn gegaan.

    Vriendelijke groeten Elly Driegen

  12. Douglas Kohlhepp

    September 3, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Greetings Captain Albert,

    I have recently discovered that some of my German ancestors had a difficult time getting to America. Jacob and Philippina Beck with their nine children departed Rotterdam aboard the SS Rotterdam arriving New York on 7 March 1882. Apparently, they were denied entry into the United States at Castle Garden since their names were crossed out on the Passenger Arrival List. Then on 31 March 1882, the family (minus a son and two daughters) arrived in Philadelphia aboard the SS Montreal (Red Star Line) from Antwerp. Would you know if any of the ship’s records might indicate why they were denied entry, whether they returned to Europe on the SS Rotterdam, and when they arrived?

    Thank you

    • Thank for for the inquiry.

      That wold be difficult. The Hal archives for passenger manifests are available after 1900, so 1882 would be too early. The only reason I can think off that they were denied would be illness, of some sort. Varying from measles, small pox, glaucoma, to worse stuff. It was then standard that the transport company had to take the affected persons back to the port of origin. So my best guess is, they went back on the ss Rotterdam and the son and two daughters stayed behind with family ? to recuperate and joined lateron. If these three were ill, then they would have been able to return with HAL once decleared healthy as there was a rule that the company remained responsible for their transport as they had not detected the illness in the first place.

      I hope this helps

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  13. Dear Captain Albert,

    My great grandfather, Isak Markovits, states on his passport application that he came to America from Rotterdam on the ship Rotterdam, sailing on or about the 9th of February, 1888. I have had no luck finding the passenger list for a voyage around this time. Do you know if such a list exists?

    Thank you so much,
    Mark Morton

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      The company has complete records from 1900 onwards. Those records are kept by the city archives in Rotterdam. Before 1900 it is more sporadic. At the moment there is a project going to digitise all the emigrant information that exists in the port of Rotterdam. Looking at the departure date that you mention – if the ship was the ss Rotterdam of 1888 then the ship departed on 28 Jan. from Rotterdam voyage 11 Captain Aldert Potjer in command. The ship arrived in NY on 11 February.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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