Rotterdam (V) in Rotterdam
As soon as I knew I was going to have an overnight stay in Amsterdam while on Vision of the Seas, I'd hoped to get to Rotterdam to see that marvellous 38,650grt former transatlantic liner, the Rotterdam (V), now in situ in her former home port ready to open as a hotel in July 2009.  She had her maiden voyage from Rotterdam to New York on the 3rd September 1958 but from 1968 she was used only for cruising.  This ship's design influences could be seen in many who came after her, particularly P&O's former flagship, Canberra.  They both had tall, twin funnels and ended their original careers on the same day, 30th September 1997.  But while Canberra went to a Pakistani beach, Rotterdam was sold to Premier Cruises where she sailed as Rembrandt.  Premier was declared bankrupt in 2002 and her future was uncertain, along with the other ships they owned.  She was laid up for three years in Freeport and Gibraltar before finally being bought to turn into a hotel based in her home port.  That collapsed and new owners took over.  But one headache after another, most notably asbestos removal, pushed the price up as well as caused many delays.  She finally arrived in Rotterdam on the 4th August 2008 to crowds
of thousands lining the route.

After two misses (she was supposed to be there when I was in 2007 then 2008) it was great to finally see her and the harbour tour was a great idea of Ben's.  She was due to open on the 27th July 2009 but delayed until the 15th February 2010 and I got the chance go back and have a look around.

When I decided to book the overnight on Norwegian Epic from Rotterdam to Southampton, there was only one place to stay as I waited - Rotterdam!  I booked two nights, 19th and 20th June, leaving to join Epic on the 21st.  I caught the 0710 Flybe flight from Southampton to Schiphol, took the train to Rotterdam then a taxi to the ship.

Check in was a long one due to the conferences.  But once at the reception desk I was given oceanview 2034 which had a lovely view of the river and Epic, which had arrived at 9am that morning.  The room was lovely, bed comfy but twins put together so single duvets.  A lot of fittings were original.  You cannot open the porthole, the aircon was oppressive when you had the heat on (it was a cold day), and shower tray slippery when you stepped into it wet.

Time for an explore but disappointingly I discovered many of the public rooms locked.  This is very frustrating when you come all that way and spend all that money.  Even if you pay for a tour you can't go in them because they're run by a different company.  Only the Lido, Ocean Bar and Club Room are theirs.  Ocean Bar is very small, Club Room's for pre-booked afternoon tea or a meal and the Lido's packed.  If you book a tour and want to see the bridge and/or engine room, that will cost extra.  These places are locked so not even hotel guests can visit.  I find this completely ridiculous.

After watching Epic sail on her first jolly, I went back to the room and got some more photos of it, including the ladder for the bunk which was stowed in the wardrobe.  They charge you extra for using the coffee machine and have a deal for the mini bar (such as it is), which I think was you were charged €9.50 whether you had it all or part.  There were no individual prices.  Suffice to say I didn't touch either.

In the morning before breakfast I went for an explore and was very frustrated at what you were unable to see despite paying for the privilege.  This doesn't happen on the Queen Mary.

You need to be careful booking online.  While you can have an English version of the site, booking is in Dutch.  I added breakfast at €17.50 per day only my email confirmation was part-English and part-Dutch.  The Dutch bit turned out to say breakfast NOT included.  I didn't know that until I tried to go and was told I had to pay extra.  I went to reception and they didn't understand it.  Their system said no breakfast but it had been paid for and included on my bill.  Also the girl told me I'd been overcharged €5 and it should be €225 and not €230.  If I hadn't spent it on a drink in the Ocean Bar or something, I would be refunded.  She gave me vouchers for that day and the next and said she'd phone to let me know I was coming even though it was after 10am by now.  Went I returned to the Lido I stood at the desk and waited and waited.  I was seen by many waiters, including the waitress who had told me I had to pay, but I was there a long time before a Filipino waiter came over.  He got a waitress who took her time, she said she couldn't let me in because it was after time but asked her superior who said yes.  Not a very good system!  Afterwards I went to the shop.  Now this was a major disappointment.  All books and DVDs were in Dutch, models were cheap tat and it was just bad altogether with very limited choice.  It's not even connected to Cruise Hotel so no chance of spending my €5 there.

My friend Ben arrived after 2pm.  We had a chat in my room before lunch in the Lido.  It was packed for 3pm with no enough waiting staff.  We eventually got served but it took a long time to come.  Some people gave up waiting.  They also stopped serving drinks at 4pm so that meant, with everywhere else shut, you could only get one in the Ocean Bar which was bursting at the seams.  There was a menu in English but it was stapled together.  I decided to have the US burger but it didn't tell you it was medium rare.  I like well done.  The food was not bad though there is room for improvement.

The Club Room was open for those who paid to have afternoon tea so we asked if I could sneak in to take some photos and the waiter said yes.

Afterwards we went for a wander.  Again these locked doors are very annoying because there are so many parts you cannot see, such as the Ambassador Lounge or Theatre, and you also can't go to or from the deck via the Sky Lounge.  They really need to sort this out or she will be a massive failure.  Word of mouth will kill her.  Why stay on her or visit when 99% is closed?


© Patricia Dempsey 4th May 2009 & 19th-21st June 2010
Not to be reproduced without permission
30th June 2010