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Rotterdam Cruise Terminal

From: Rotterdam Travel Guide

Passengers and MSC PREZIOSA at Rotterdam Cruise Terminal

ABOVE: Passengers linger in the upstairs lounge of Rotterdam's cruise terminal, with MSC Preziosa as a backdrop.

Cruise Terminal Rotterdam

Rotterdam Cruise TerminalLong before the days of cruise ships, passengers were using Rotterdam as a port of embarkation for faraway places: The Pilgrims departed from Delfshaven (now part of Rotterdam) for the New World by way of Southampton in 1620, Durant's Swiss ancestor left Rotterdam for the New World in 1752, and Holland-Amerika Lijn (in English, Holland America Line) carried hundreds of thousands of immigrants--mostly Eastern Europeans--from Rotterdam to North America from 1880 onwards.

Holland AmericakadeThroughout the first 70 years of the 20th Century, Rotterdam's Holland Amerikakade (Holland America Quay) was the arrival and departure point for ships between the Netherlands and foreign ports--most notably Hoboken, New Jersey, which served the New York market. Holland America Line switched from scheduled passenger service to cruising in 1971, and today, the renovated HAL embarkation and customs hall is the Cruise Terminal Rotterdam.

Ship name on Rotterdam quayCruise Terminal Rotterdam currently welcomes about 20 cruise ships a year, including ships of such lines as Holland America, Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises. It's a two-story building with an escalator, elevator, toilets, a glass-enclosed boarding bridge, shops, and other services for travelers.

Rotterdam cruise departureA few years ago, we sailed on a roundtrip ms Rotterdam cruise from the city, and it was quite an experience: Hundreds of well-wishers waved from a park just beyond the cruise terminal, and the two-hour voyage from Rotterdam to the North Sea offered fascinating views of the city, the harbor, the industrial port, the Maeslant Storm Barrier, and the Hook of Holland.

More recently, we took a roundtrip MSC Preziosa North Sea cruise to Hamburg, Le Havre, Southampton, and Zeebrugge from Rotterdam. The terminal building was unchanged, but check-in and boarding were much faster and simpler than they'd been on our earlier cruise.

Reaching Cruse Terminal Rotterdam

Rotterdam Cruise TerminalThe Rotterdam cruise terminal is directly across the Nieuwe Maas River from the city center. From the floating H2otel, we walked 20 minutes or so via the Erasmus Bridge, but you can easily reach the terminal by taxi, tram lines 20/25/30 from the city center, or by Metro. (Get off at Wilhelminaplein and walk a short half-block east to the cruise terminal.)

To learn more about airports, taxis, and public transit, see our Rotterdam transportation page.

Food and lodging

Hotel New York RotterdamHotel New York is a boutique hotel in the former Holland America Line headquarters. (The building dates back to the early 20th Century; the hotel opened in 1993.) The Hotel New York has 72 rooms, a well-regarded restaurant, and a location that's perfect if you're catching a ship: It's just down the street from the Cruise Terminal Rotterdam.

  • Tip: Because the cruise terminal is only about 2 km or 1¼ miles from the heart of Rotterdam, any centrally-located hotel (preferably near the waterfront) will be convenient for an overnight stay before or after a cruise.

For more information:

Visit Cruise Port Rotterdam, which has a cruise calendar and other information in six languages.

More photos:

BELOW: The Cruise Terminal Rotterdam is across the Nieuwe Maas river from the city center. In this photo, MSC Preziosa spends the night in Rotterdam during a week-long cruise to ports in the North Sea.

Rotterdam Cruise Terminal and a container barge

BELOW: We walked from downtown Rotterdam to the cruise terminal via the Erasmusbrug, a.k.a. the Erasmus Bridge, where bicyclists were lined up as the bridge deck was raised to let a ship pass beneath.

Erasmusbrug with raised bridge deck and bicycles

BELOW: As we neared the end of the bridge, we could see MSC Preziosa moored next to Cruise Terminal Rotterdam.

Cruise Terminal Rotterdam and MSC PREZIOSA

BELOW: At the foot of the bridge, we turned right and walked past a kiosk with advertisements and a map of the small peninsula where the cruise terminal is located. (The area is well-developed, with office skyscrapers, housing, restaurants, and hotels.)

O the way to Rotterdam Cruise Terminal

Map of Rotterdam Cruise Terminal area

Click here for a larger map.

BELOW:The Cruise Terminal Rotterdam was just ahead of us.

In the background of this photo, you can see the tower of the Hotel New York at the end of the small peninsula, facing a city park.

Rotterdam Cruise Terminal building and sign

BELOW: We'd already checked in on MSC's Web site before leaving home, so we gave our bags to the waiting longshoremen and were pointed to an escalator by clerks at the information desk.

Check-in desk at Cruise Terminal Rotterdam

Sign for escalator in Rotterdam Cruise Terminal 

BELOW: Upstairs, we handed our paperwork to an attendant who took photos and issued our cruise cards.

Check-in for MSC PREZIOSA cruise

BELOW: After a quick security check, we boarded MSC Preziosa via the glassed-in passenger bridge.

Boarding bridge in Rotterdam Cruise Terminal 

BELOW: We took these two photos of the Erasmusbrug, the Nieuwe Mass river, and downtown Rotterdam at night from MSC Preziosa. (Our cruise didn't depart until the next morning.)

Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge) in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Erasmusbrug and downtown Rotterdam

BELOW: These photos show the Cruise Terminal Rotterdam from MSC Preziosa. The first was taken soon after boarding, the other upon our return a week later.

Cruise Terminal Rotterdam at night

Rotterdam Cruise Terminal from MSC PREZIOSA

Next page: Rotterdam tourist information

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