Holland America’s Rotterdam

by Michelle Krona

It was our pleasure to vacation on the Rotterdam. It was recommended by Cruising Authority’s Barry Vaudrin, and our Travel Advisor Pamela McGovern. My husband and I wanted a cruise that was relaxing and yet entertaining when we wanted to explore the ship and the ports. The Rotterdam is Holland America’s Flagship, with that in mind it is smaller and older which is nice because it is less crowded and has a more restful atmosphere. It is always a good idea and is highly recommended to go through a Travel Advisor like Pamela McGovern who knows the cruise ships, so they can partner you with the right fit for the kind of vacation you want to have and they will make sure you get the best service and peace of mind before you take your cruise.

We felt well cared for and attended to know matter what activity we chose to do whether a show or sitting by the pool and of course having a meal. We never felt like we were missing out on anything, because our vacation was wherever we were at on the ship. Don’t try to do everything they offer or feel like you have to attend all the shows or dinners. We found our favorite things like listening or dancing to Adagio in the Ocean bar or catching part of the Barry from Boston show in the Piano Bar or going dancing at the Crow’s Nest with DJ Taylor who is the assistant cruise director. We attended all of the nightly shows and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of entertainment from comedians Jeff Burghart and Matt Disero also Post Modern Jukebox as a stage production. They even had a Planet Earth II omni type movie accompanied by the Ocean Quartet. The quartet also played in the Ocean Bar they were very talented and relaxing to listen to as they played classical music.

We celebrated my birthday by having dinner in the Pinnacle Grill which was 5 stars given for food and service. They even made me a special cake for my birthday on top of having baked Alaska and Chocolate soufflé for dessert which we devoured before we remembered to take a picture. We had room service in our room twice for breakfast which made it so convenient and relaxing on mornings that we didn’t want to run up for breakfast. They offer room service for all meals. We had open dining which meant we could have dinner when and wherever we wanted, which took the pressure off of being at the same place and time every night. Assigned dining isn’t bad, it’s actually very nice also. But for this vacation we wanted more freedom. We actually started earlier than the early seating and sometimes later depending on the activities we chose that day or port we were at for the day. The main dining room had amazing food and service. We opted to have pizza one night on deck and hamburgers and Chicago dogs with the most amazing fries for lunch one day. I think Tom had a hamburger and fries again another time because they were really good. We chose the buffet for breakfast and lunch most of the time and once for dinner. The buffet had many of the things from the main dining area but offered buffet style and even many more options for all tastes American, Asian, Italian, Sea food, Foreign lands section with many offerings. Put it this way you definitely didn’t go hungry.

The ports we stopped at were Key West, Florida, Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala, Mahogany Bay, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico with two days at sea. Key West was a fun day of walking around and shopping, trying three kinds of Key Lime Pie. Blue Heaven was our favorite which had mountain high meringue. We purchased snorkeling fins at the Dive shop and souvenirs for ourselves and family like Key West aloe, hot sauce and seashells. In Guatemala we booked a bus tour through the ship and toured the area to experience the culture. It is a poor country, but it is rich in culture. We visited the Chiquita port where they ship bananas and Dole pineapple. Can we say that’s a bunch of bananas! We then rested at a resort with local snacks and laid at the beach before heading back to the local market by the ship port. They had local music playing and sold locally made merchandise. Tom got a really nice hat and we found some fun t-shirts for our sons and a hand woven coin bag for our daughter-in-law. In Mahogany Bay we booked through the ship which was recommended by our travel agent the Magical Flying Chair. It takes you to a beautiful Beach a short distance from the port shopping area, the chair lift was unlimited, back and forth through the day at port. You ride over a wooded area and inlet that you can walk if you choose, but the chair lift saved time and was very scenic. We spent most of the day on the beach where we rented a clam shell to protect us from the sun and snorkeled and saw many fish and coral. They were serving some local cuisine of BBQ jerk chicken and rice with fries that we purchased and enjoyed while we sunned at the beach. We took the chair lift to the shopping area for a little while and headed back to the beach for one last dip before we headed back to the ship. In Costa Maya we had scheduled a snorkeling tour that was canceled due to mechanical issues which didn’t matter because all beach and water activities were canceled due to the strong winds which were up to 39 knots. It was something we really looked forward to, but weather is weather. This gave us plenty of time to shop and go back to the ship to take a nice nap. Because of the wind we were delayed leaving the port by a couple of hours where the Captain made the decision when it was safe to leave. Well done Captain for a safe departure from port.

The Rotterdam, captained by Bas van Dreumel, is a graceful ship like old wine, it has a vintage feel and a familiar feel like family. Captain Bas van Dreumel shared with me when I spoke with him how he has grown to love the Rotterdam and those who work on the ship. We spoke with a gentleman that cruises 200 days a year on the Rotterdam and there many others that travel many times a year.  It was a pleasure to interview and tour the bridge and see where he stands as he maneuvers in and out of the ports. He showed much pride in his officers and crew as well as the ship he captains and how important the safety and comfort of his crew and guests are a top priority. His journey to become the Captain of the Rotterdam started at an early age as a child on boats, sailing vessels and canoes as he spent many a summer on the water. During the year he was sent to a boarding school to train early for being a future Captain. He explained the importance of being groomed for life at sea from an early age. If you couldn’t get over being homesick at school you might best not sign up for a future life at sea. You could hear in his voice the pride of mastering a ship and by the look in his eye that he loved what he does. After boarding school at the early age of 17 he joined the Royal Dutch Navy. He attended the Merchant Academy, and Nautical College. Captain Bas van Dreumel has been a Master for seven years now which came earlier than usual for those in the same field. He and his beautiful wife Lydia live at sea together in their beautiful stateroom just steps away from the bridge. Captain Bas van Dreumel expressed how time has changed the roll as captain to be more hands on and accessible to the crew and guests which makes his position much more enjoyable. It was unheard off to speak or approach the Captain in years past. Thankfully that has changed Captain bas van Dreumel is very kind and approachable and it was a pleasure to meet him.

The Cruise Director is Ryse Williams and when I spoke with him, I was so surprised to find out that he had only been in his position for one month. He is energetic, well spoken, a great listener, and very talented at his job. Ryse comes from a long line of entertainers in his family from siblings, parents and grandparents. They enjoy singing around the piano as a family when they get together. He explained how he only planned on working on a cruise ship for one season as an entertainer and how it turned into a career. He started as a singer/entertainer. Holland America offered him many times to take a promotion, becausethey saw his talent early on were Ryse declined until he felt he was ready. He then challenged himself to become a Cruise Director. He trained and moved quickly up the ranks and he continues to challenge himself to be the best Cruise Director and develop new skills and ways to do his job well. Ryse explained how well Holland America takes care of their employees and families. So if you want to cruise the seas and work on a cruise ship you might want to check it out. It was such a pleasure speaking with Ryse and it is evident he will go far in the cruising industry with Holland America. Such a nice talented young man. It is an amazing experience to cruise on the seas and my husband and I highly recommend trying a cruise, or going on another cruise to not only get a much needed vacation, but experience new places and people.

Again my husband and I recommend getting advice from a cruise expert like Barry Vaudrin, check him out at www.cruisetalkshow.com and booking through our Travel Advisor Pamela McGovern:

  • Pamela McGovern
  • Travel Advisor
  • The Cruise & Vacation Authority
  • A Signature Travel Network
  • Phone: 678-984-3348
  • Email: pamela@tcava.com

See you on the seas!!!

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