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ms Rotterdam Cruise Review

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HAL Rotterdam pool barbecue

ABOVE: Cooks tend the grill at a Pool Barbecue on ms Rotterdam's Lido Deck.

Dining, café, bars


In past years, Holland America wasn't known as a cruise line for foodies, but times have changed: On our voyage, the quality of the food compared favorably with the meals we've eaten on lines like Silversea and Oceania (albeit without the former's caviar and foie gras).

La Fontaine dining roomThe main restaurant on ms Rotterdam is the La Fontaine Dining Room, which has two levels: an upstairs level on Deck 5 for guests who prefer assigned tables at two sittings, and the main level on Deck 4 with open seating from early to late evening.

salmonA typical dinner consists of four courses (appetizer, soup or salad, main course, and dessert), with menus that change daily but always include standbys like grilled chicken breast and New York steak. European-size portions won't satisfy NFL linemen, but there's no limit on the number of items that can be ordered.

  • Nice touch: If you've chosen open seating (a.k.a. "As You Wish" Dining), you can reserve a table for the evening or wait by the maître d's podium until a table is available, as you prefer.

Pinnacle Grill appetizerFor an extra charge, you can dine in Rotterdam's Pinnacle Grill, which specializes in aged steaks, lamb chops, poultry, and seafood. (Reserve ahead--the Pinnacle Grill is a popular alternative to the main dining room on many voyages.)

Lido Restaurant breakfastThe cafeteria-style Lido Restaurant is more casual than the La Fontaine Dining Room or the Pinnacle Grill, and it's where most passengers go for breakfast and lunch. (It's also open in the evening for guests who'd rather pick and choose from a buffet than enjoy a leisurely sit-down dinner.) During the afternoon, the Lido Restaurant serves deli sandwiches, and a late-night snack (sometimes with a theme such as "Russian" or "Indonesian") is usually served between 11 p.m. and midnight.

Lido Restaurant outdoor tablesTables inside the Lido Restaurant can be crowded at peak hours, but we were always able to find a table for two on the open deck behind the restaurant overlooking the Sea View Pool (see inset photo) or in the covered Lido Pool area.

Terrace GrillThe poolside Terrace Grill on the Lido Deck is open in the afternoons, with cooked-to-order burgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches. (Pizza by the slice is available under a heat lamp.) The deck around the Lido Pool, which has a retractable cover, is also the setting for a "Pool Barbecue" and a "Dessert Extravaganza" during most cruises.

Free Room Service is another option, both at breakfast (when you can choose from a long list of hot and cold items) and at any other hour of the day or night.

Holland America Line caters to passengers who have special dietary needs, Vegetarian, diabetic, gluten-free, and kosher meals are available, and "health-conscious" menu items (including outstanding sugar-free desserts) are offered at all meals.

Explorations Café

Explorations CafeThe Explorations Café, which is sponsored by The New York Times, also is home to the ship's library and Internet center. It offers coffee drinks and vitamin water (payment required), along with pastries and other small snacks.


Rotterdam has tippling venues scattered around the ship, including two pool bars, a piano bar, a Martini bar, and a topside lounge/nightclub with a view called the Crow's Nest.

Next page: Entertainment

In this article:
ms Rotterdam: the ship
Staterooms, suites
Dining, café, bars
Other amenities
Ports, excursions
Crew, service
Is HAL right for you?
Web links

Also see:
ms Rotterdam Cruise Photos (156 pages)
ms Rotterdam Behind the Scenes
ms Rotterdam's Art Collection
Rotterdam, Netherlands (the city)

1st, 2nd, 3rd inset photos copyright © Holland America Line.