Preserved Ships – SS ROTTERDAM (The Netherlands)

The famous ocean liner SS ROTTERDAM currently a hotel ship in Rotterdam, the Netherlands since 2010 was the last great Dutch “ship of state”, employing the finest artisans from the Netherlands in her construction and fitting out process.

She was launched by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands in a gala ceremony on 13th September 1958, and was completed the following summer. Her sea trials and handing over to Holland America Line took place on 20th July, 1959, just a few months before her maiden crossing of the Atlantic. On her maiden voyage she carried the then Crown Princess of the Netherlands to New York. Due to the growing popularity of air travel, an increasing number of transatlantic liners began to disappear from service. This trend led to the ROTTERDAM’s permanent retirement from transatlantic service in 1969. In fact she was refitted for permanent cruising and began her new life as a cruise ship of which after the refit she was the sole ship of her class. She became popular throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, with mostly American and Australian passengers. Another refit in 1977 saw her passenger capacity decreased from 1,499 to 1,144.  Carnival Cruise Lines took over Holland America Line in 1989.

ROTTERDAM moored at Grand Harbour back in 1985.

She remained in service until 1997, when Carnival Cruise Lines announced that to upgrade her to meet the new 1997 SOLAS regulations would cost 40 million dollars and had been opting to retire what they had supposedly called the “old ship.” A gala finale cruise ended her final season on September 30, 1997. Then she was sold to Premier Cruises and renamed SS REMBRANDT. Controversially Premier was able to refit her for new SOLAS regulations as well as many other things for half the amount Carnival had predicted. She sailed for Premier until September 13, 2000, when Premier Cruises shut down. It was midnight when this was made official and the captain of the Rembrandt was ordered to dock in Halifax, Nova Scotia and disembark all. She was subsequently placed under arrest by the Halifax Sheriff’s department until the next morning, then days later she sailed to be laid up in Freeport, Bahamas. Her career spanned 41 years. She sailed from 1959 until her final retirement in September 2000.

On 12th July, 2004, she arrived at Gibraltar for asbestos encapsulation and removal performed by the Cuddy Group of the UK. Then visited Cadiz where her hull was repainted in its original Holland America grey, and then moved on to Poland and Germany for final restoration. She returned to the city of Rotterdam on 8th August, 2008. She opened to the public on 15th February, 2010 as a combination museum/hotel and school for vocational training. On 12th June, 2013, she was sold to West Cord Hotels, which also owns the Hotel New York located in the former Holland America Line headquarters building in Rotterdam.

Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –

Published – Monday 11th May, 2020