SS Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere

I included a small section about our visit aboard the ss Rotterdam in my previous post A DAY OUT IN ROTTERDAM but after visiting a second time with the kids, I think this popular Rotterdam tourist attraction can justify its own blogpost.

The ss Rotterdam is a historical ocean liner from Holland America Line that sailed its first voyage from Rotterdam to New York in 1959.   On her maiden voyage she carried the then Crown Princess, Juliana of the Netherlands, to New York.  It was, at the time, one of the most elegant ships built in the Netherlands post WWII.  


However, with the growing popularity of air travel, it was refitted to be used as a cruise ship for many years until it was finally retired in 2000.  In 2010 was brought back to Rotterdam harbor and used as a hotel ship.   [There was a bit of a scandal with a housing authority which bought the ship – you can read about it here in English]  



As we didn’t personally stay onboard the ss Rotterdam, I cannot give my opinion of the 254 modern rooms.   I’m sure they are pretty cool as they are all decorated in the 50’s style.  The rooms are divided into 3 different themes: Bahamas, Original, Manhattan. These styles are based on the various (exotic) destinations that ss Rotterdam enjoyed in her years as a luxury cruise ship.   You can look at the rooms online here.   I personally like aspects of all three – so no clear winner.  



Today guests can stay, dine, and explore with a tour.  We didn’t do the tour – but there is a short movie about how traveling on ss Rotterdam really looked like back in the day.   With COVID-19 measures, a lot was closed off, but they offer several types of tours which you book at the gift shop.

Seabreeze Deluxe Tour
Steam & Chrome Tour
Rotterdam Complete Tour
Art Tours

Guided tours and even Kids tours – all of them highlight the ship, the facts and figures, some include visits to the steam room, and Captain’s Quarters. 


During our first visit, we didn’t go exploring the ship too much.  However, when we brought the kids onboard during our Rotterdam – check out that blog post here: Euromast – Experience the Most Stunning Views of Rotterdam  we saw some guests standing up on a higher deck so we also went up to see what was there.  Turns out there was a whole area of the boat that we never saw – including a chart room, the radio room and the captain’s cabin – all of which you see during the self-guided.   I think that McElroy Chart of Codes and Signals would be very cool in Soren’s bedroom. 



If you are the adventurous type, and like to solve riddles, make the right connections, you might even find their onboard Escape Room fun.  I personally never did it before so I don’t know much about them but the record time of the Escape Room is 28 minutes and 17 seconds.  And the success rate is 40%.  I did a quick search as I thought was seemed pretty low, but the average success rate is 41% – guess it is normal after all. 


Clearly, the Lido Grill is a popular place to dine among the older folks – who were coming onboard for what looked like a special meal.    My guess is that if you want to have dinner in one of the restaurants at ss Rotterdam, you should book a table in advance. Again, we didn’t stay overnight but my guess is they’d have a great breakfast – as the hotel is a Westcord Hotel and from my experience with staying a week on Vlieland in the Westcord, they had a GREAT breakfast!

Once home to the largest red-light district in Europe, Katendrecht is now one of Rotterdam’s culinary hotspots. The Deliplein which is about a 10 minute walk from the ship is a small plaza that houses more than 20 restaurants and bars like Vislokaal KAAP – a fish restaurant whose menu looks great. This square is right behind the Fenix Food Factory (which we have on our list to visit) and very close to Hotel New York. Plus with the water taxi and water bus launches from behind the ship both taking you into the amazing city of Rotterdam.  I’d personally never dine onboard, if given the choice with all the option you have in Rotterdam! 

The fine dining option at the Club Room is temporarily closed as of March 2020 – which I suspect is due to COVID. 


If you are staying at the hotel for more than one night, you can rent a bicycle from reception.   Getting around the city is very easy – you can easily take it on the on the water bus and bike along to the windmills of Kinderdijk or in the Dutch Biesbosch – as it’s an e-bike so you can go even future!  Prices start at € 15, for the whole day!   They even offer scooters and rental cars if you prefer. 


The kids found the pool cool – even though it was small, on a hot day, they’d definitely be interested in sitting it in too cool off. From what we can make out, no men can enter the pool without a shirt? Seems like an odd rule.


On our first trip, we had a couple beers in the Ocean Wine Bar because it was very quiet and only the two of us for the majority of time we were there. But with the kids, we didn’t have anything to to drink.



As I mentioned above both the Water Taxi (stop 56) and Katendrecht Waterbus (line 18)  both launch from behind (and next to) the ship and take you into the amazing city of Rotterdam.   Once you make your booking online for the Water Taxi, just go out the doors on the backside where you stand on the platform and wait.  Within minutes, your taxi will come and pick you up and speed you way – literally!  Hold on to your hat and your kids-  as they will fly!    The Waterbus is just down a bit from the boat but super easy to navigate your journey on their website (Dutch or English)


ss Rotterdam
3e Katendrechtsehoofd 25
3072 AM Rotterdam

Apart from the Water Taxi & Waterbus (see above for specifics), you can park your car in the huge lot outside for a fee.  Our first time we came by bike and there is of course Metro station Rijnhaven.   With all the new construction going on in the area – check to be sure what is open and closed.  

Check out my blog posts relating to this fabulous city:

Top 8 Things For Families To Do in Rotterdam
A Day Out In Rotterdam
Maeslantkering: Visiting the Storm Surge Barrier
A Day at the Blijdorp Zoo
Cafe Dukok – Best Apple Pie in Rotterdam
Day & Day Hot & Hot – Hot Pot Restaurant Review

Have you been to the ss Rotterdam? Share your experiences in the comments!



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