ms Rotterdam Cruise Review
Like other Holland America Line vessels, ms Rotterdam has all of the modern cruise-ship amenities and services that you'd expect:
You can check e-mail and browse the Web 24 hours a day at PCs in the library (which adjoins the Explorations Café), or via Wi-Fi hotspots in public rooms around the ship.
Internet rates are on a par with other cruise lines: during our voyage, a 100-minute access package was available for a fairly steep fee. Other options included a straight per-minute charge. Don't plan on using the Internet in your cabin unless you're willing to tolerate a slow dial-up modem connection.
You can call home, and people at home can call you, via ship-to-shore telephone. However, such calls are horrendously expensive, so they're best saved for emergencies.
Another option is to use your mobile phone on board, though you'll incur high roaming charges from WMS, which provides satellite-based "cellular@sea" service on HAL and many other cruise or ferry line. (WMS is compatible with some 300 phone carriers worldwide, including CDMA networks like Sprint and Verizon whose phones don't work with European GSM networks.)
If you live outside Europe and can't do without mobile-phone service while traveling, we'd recommend using a multiband GSM phone with prepaid service from a vendor like Cellular Abroad or (if you have a smartphone or a laptop with Skype) a Pocket Wi-Fi device from Tep Wireless. Make your calls when you're in port to avoid satellite roaming charges.
During our cruise, we used a triband "Duet" phone from Cellular Abroad with a National Geographic international SIM card. This worked fine in ports, as long as we paid attention to the time difference between Europe and the U.S. and remembered to switch off the phone when we returned to the ship.
Rotterdam has an onboard laundry and dry-cleaning service. (Check your closet for laundry bags and a price list.) The ship also has self-service laundromats with washers, dryers, irons, and ironing boards. You'll pay for washers and dryers; do-it-yourself ironing is free.
Rotterdam offers daily programs for children in three age groups: 3-7, 8-12, and 13-17. Supervised games and activities run into the early evening, giving parents the chance to enjoy a quiet dinner in the La Fontaine Dining Room or the Pinnacle Grill while their kids play in Club HAL or hang out in the Loft on Deck 9.
For infants and toddlers, private babysitting can be arranged at the parents' expense; check with the reception desk for details.
The "outdoor walkaround" on the Lower Promenade Deck has teak deck chairs that are set up during the day, and blankets are available (though they're sometimes in short supply). Other deck chairs and chaises longues are at various locations around the ship, including the two pools and the "Sky Deck" on Deck 10.
Please note that some deck chairs on the Lower Promenade Deck are reserved for occupants of the Lanai Staterooms that have doors facing the deck.
Rotterdam has two swimming pools--the Lido Pool on Deck 8, which has a retractable roof, and the outdoor Sea View Pool on Deck 7 overlooking the ship's wake.
: In the Greenhouse Spa & Salon on Deck 8, you can schedule anything from a hot-stone massage to a haircut. (As you might guess, the spa is busiest on sea days, so book early if you're intent on having an updo for one of the ship's occasional "formal nights.")
Rotterdam's onboard gym offers exercise equipment, classes (such as yoga and Pilates), and optional supervision by a personal trainer. A basketball court and a tennis court are outdoors on Deck 9.
Rotterdam offers a daily Catholic mass, with interdenominational Sunday services for Protestants. Jewish passengers can get together for Sabbath Eve services, and a rabbi is on board during the Jewish High Holidays.
You'll find the usual assortment of shops that sell necessities, logo wear, jewelry, and other items that people buy while cruising. The ship also has a "photo gallery" where you can buy pictures of yourself that the ship's photographers have taken. (Products and services for camera owners, such as burning of digital images to CDs, are available.)
Rotterdam has a Medical Center that provides emergency care to passengers who suffer illnesses and injuries. Many insurance plans don't cover treatment at sea, so it's a good idea to check your coverage and--if necessary--buy travel and/or medical-evacuation insurance before leaving home.
For more information about ms Rotterdam's amenities, activities, and services, visit the Holland America Line Web site. See the link on page 10 of this article, and click around the HAL site or use HAL's search box if you don't see what you're looking for.
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