Modern throwbacks to the glory days of transatlantic travel without the stuffiness or class separation, these attractive, gloriously midsize sisters have great features, from classic art to rich mahogany woodwork and elegant yet understated public rooms.
Typical Per Diems: $95-$210
Amsterdam sails the Panama Canal from Fort Lauderdale (winter, spring) & Los Angeles (winter); Alaska from Seattle (summer).
Rotterdam sails the Panama Canal from San Diego (winter, spring).
With 3 years separating them, near-twins Rotterdam and Amsterdam combine classic elegance with contemporary amenities and provide a very comfortable cruise, especially on itineraries of 10 nights and longer. Carrying just over 1,300 passengers at double occupancy, they're a breath of fresh air in the sea of supermegaships that ply the oceans these days. Rotterdam is the sixth HAL ship to bear that name, following the legendary Rotterdam V, which was sold in 1997.
Like the rest of the fleet, the ships were recently upgraded to feature HAL's Signature of Excellence enhancements, including the Explorations Café Internet center and coffee shop, beefed-up kids' facilities, a culinary-arts demonstration kitchen, and upgraded cabin amenities.
Unlike the beige color schemes of the older Statendam-class ships, the decor here is livelier, with coral and mango colors, and blues and whites brightening things up. At 182 to 197 square feet, the standard cabins are among the most spacious at sea and have enough hanging and drawer space for 10-night-plus cruises. Bathrooms are generous as well, with bathtubs in all but the standard inside cabins (and, on Amsterdam, in a handful of outsides as well). Each cabin has a sitting area, a desk, a safe, two lower beds convertible to a queen, and great reading lights above each bed, in addition to the line's recently added amenities: flat-panel plasma TVs and DVD players, terry-cloth bathrobes, massage shower heads, lighted magnifying makeup mirrors, and salon-quality hair dryers. Beds now have plush, amazingly comfy, triple-sheeted mattresses and 100% Egyptian cotton bed linens. Both ships now also have a handful of spa staterooms for convenient access to the spa and health club.
Verandah Suites are 225 square feet and have a 59-square-foot private veranda; Deluxe Verandah Suites measure 374 square feet and have a 189-square-foot veranda and a dressing room. Both have sitting areas, whirlpool tubs, and stocked minibars, and are kept stocked with fresh fruit. Penthouse Suites measure 937 square feet and have a 189-square-foot veranda, living room, dining room, guest bathroom, and an oversize whirlpool tub. All suite guests have use of a concierge lounge whose staff will take care of shore-excursion reservations and any matters about which you'd normally have to wait in line at the front desk. The lounge is stocked with reading material, and a continental breakfast is served daily.
Twenty-one cabins are wheelchair accessible.
Both ships have great, easy-to-navigate layouts that allow passengers to move easily among public rooms. Most of the inside public areas are concentrated on two decks; ditto for the pools, sunning areas, spa, sports facilities, and buffet restaurant, which are all on the Lido and Sports decks.
Overall, the ships give you the feeling of an elegant old hotel, with dark red and blue upholstery and leathers, damask fabrics, mahogany tones, and gold accents. Artwork is everywhere, from the stairwells to the walkways on the Promenade and Upper Promenade decks. Aboard Amsterdam, the theme is Dutch and nautical; aboard Rotterdam, it's Continental and Asian. In Amsterdam's atrium, a clock tower combines an astrolabe, a world clock, a planetary clock, and an astrological clock. You can't miss it; it's been wedged into the space with barely an inch to spare. Rotterdam's passengers are greeted in the atrium by a large reproduction Flemish clock.
The Explorations Café is a main hub on the ships and the place to check your e-mail or surf the Web while enjoying a cappuccino.
The Ocean Bar serves complimentary hot hors d'oeuvres before dinner nightly, and passengers pack into the bar to listen and dance to a lively trio. More elegant is the Explorer's Lounge, whose string ensemble performs a classical repertoire. Nearby is the open-sided piano bar, featuring a red lacquered baby grand piano on the Amsterdam.
The Crow's Nest observation lounge/disco gets fairly little use during the day unless there's a special event being held (such as line-dance classes), but it's a popular spot for predinner cocktails and after-dinner dancing. Near the room's entrance on Amsterdam, you'll see the Four Seasons sculptures originally created for the old Nieuw Amsterdam in 1938, and purchased back by the line from a private collector. On Rotterdam, a highlight of the Crow's Nest is the life-size terra-cotta human and horse figures, copies of ancient statues discovered in Xian, China.
The Amsterdam's main showroom, perhaps the brightest of the rooms, is done in red and gold and is more a nightclub than a theater. Sit on the banquettes for the best sightlines, as alternating rows of individual chairs sit lower and don't permit most passengers to see over the heads of those in front of them. The balcony has decent sightlines.
Other public rooms include a large casino, library, card room, and the Wajang Theatre -- the spot for movie viewing as well as HAL's Culinary Arts Center demonstration kitchen.
Pool Fitness & Spa Facilities
Amsterdam and Rotterdam have spacious, well-equipped gyms with a very large separate aerobics area, floor-to-ceiling ocean views, plenty of elbowroom, and a nice spa. There's a pair of swimming pools: one amidships on the Lido Deck, with a retractable glass roof and a pair of hot tubs; and another smaller, less trafficked, and thus more relaxing one in the stern, which was renamed the Retreat because of a new pool bar, pizzeria, and giant LED movie screen. Both ships have great wraparound Promenade Decks lined with wooden deck chairs, a quiet and nostalgic spot for reading, snoozing, or scoping the scenery.
There's a combo volleyball and tennis court on the Sports Deck, and Ping-Pong tables are on the Lower Promenade in the sheltered bow.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.