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.  

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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]  

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HOTEL ROOMS

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.  

 

TOURS ONBOARD

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. 

CHART & RADIO ROOM

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. 

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ESCAPE ROOM

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. 

DINING OPTIONS

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. 

GO OFF THE SHIP – VISIT THE CITY

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. 

LIDO DECK 

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.

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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.

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WATER TAXI & WATER BUS

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)

LOCATION 

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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Top 8 Things For Families To Do In Rotterdam, Netherlands

When I used to think of Rotterdam, I always associated it with a very modern American city along with the favorite football club of my son and Nils. But it was not until now doing my tourism research for our visit to the see family in the Netherlands which I see the city has a lot more to offer than Feyenoord games or the fan shop ;).  For example,  I knew they had a tram system but no idea an underground Metro.

Part of my attraction to Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general, is the style of most of houses / buildings. This is probably why I ignored Rotterdam for so long. It is also surprisingly a very family-friendly city with loads to do for children. I have complied a “top 8 things for families to do in Rotterdam” list.  But we need more than one day to get through the list.   

Note: I originally made this blogpost a few years ago when we were visiting the Netherlands and living in Ireland, but I just went back in and updated it with photos and republished. I figured now we’re living here in the Netherlands for two years and recently visited Rotterdam with [and often without] the kids, why not!

Tip: As with many other local attractions, when booking online, you can combine visits and save a few Euros!

#1 VISIT THE MARITIME MUSEUM

We absolutely LOVED this museum. Even if you are not a “water person”, I really think you’ll still find it interesting. I did a separate post on it which can be found here.   I went back a second alone with Funs and had a nice time – and a bonus, I wasn’t seasick on the platform.  We even went back a third time with the kids —  the four of us spent time on the platform doing the activities like landing the helicopter, repairing a leak in an oil pipe, etc.  This section of the museum is brilliant and a must do while there. 

As the museum closes early at 5, I took Maebh upstairs to Profession Plons, so she could have about 20 minutes of play up there as she enjoyed it when we were there the first time.  But now at 10, she is really way too old.  It is great for kids 3-8. 

#2 – TAKE A HARBOUR CRUISE 

There are a few options available for you to visit and sightsee by water including hop on and off boats and of course water taxis and aqua shuttle. 

First is Spido tours. Among the busy traffic of sea-going and inland ships, this trip is a special journey through one of the largest harbours in the world. You can see Rotterdam’s impressive skyline with its imposing buildings glide by, and then get a unique view of the harbours shipyards, docks and the hypermodern trans shipping of thousands of containers. Last but not least the tour will end with a view of the steamship ‘Rotterdam’, the former cruise flagship of shipping company Holland America Line. An exciting 75 minutes with clear descriptions of everything you see.

Second is Splashtours which is similar to the Ducktours in Boston but instead of a WW2 style vehicle it’s an amphibious​ bus!  You have the option of first taking a tour where you drive through the city before ‘splashing’ into the river Maas.

But unlike the funny Boston drivers who give live commentary, here your tour was TV footage and audio.

#3 – PANNENKOEKENBOAT

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If the idea of eating UNLIMITED Dutch pancakes with a variety of toppings while seeing Rotterdam by boat seems like your type of fun, you won’t want to miss this place.  They offers variety of sailings from 75-minute to 2.5 hours!   They even have a ball pit area to keep the younger kids entertained. While I’d find this a bit boring personally, I’d go along for the kids as I know they’d love it.   Book online here

#4 – PLASJWIJCK PARK

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This place is so unique and a place the kids loved to visit and were never bored!  It’s called an amusement park but it’s more of an indoor and outdoor play space with a petting zoo and water playground. The parks website is only in Dutch but this review is in English and is very thorough and shows how fun this place can be for kids. While we visited, I never got around to do a post on it.  We’ll have to re-visit.

#5 – BLIJDOORP ZOO – AKA – ROTTERDAM ZOO

Also known as Diergaard Blijdorp, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, it is home to giraffes, tigers, seals, gorillas, polar bears all having their own unique habits.  Other highlights include the award-winning butterfly garden area, Amazonica and an aquarium area Oceanium.  We ended up visiting this zoo without the children but will take them next time.  Visit my post – A Day at the Blijdoorp Zoo. 

#6 – EUROMAST

The Euromast is Rotterdam’s iconic observation tower. It was built in 1960 to mark the occasion Floriade, an international flower and garden exhibition. Its height at 101 meters was the tallest building back in the days. Unfortunately, Euromast quickly lost its title due to the ever changing Rotterdam’s skyline. In 1970, Euromast retaliated with additional 85 meters by adding a rotating elevator – ‘Space Tower’.

I just did a blogpost about our recent visit to the Euromast – read it here:  The Euromast – Experience the most stunning views of Rotterdam

#7 – SS ROTTERDAM CRUISE SHIP 

This former Trans-Atlantic liner has been transformed into a restaurant/bar and 254 room hotel. The ss Rotterdam is the largest passenger ship ever built in The Netherlands: 228 meters long, 28 meters wide and 61 meters in height. It was inaugurated by Dutch Queen Juliana in 1958. Until 1971 it ran scheduled services to New York City, but turned more towards cruises when air traffic became more popular. You can read more about the history and things onboard on their site.   We went here for a drink and I posted about it in my blog post – A Day Out in Rotterdam.  We ended up going back this time taking the kids on – but of course, it was drizzly that day too so no chance for a dip in the pool or a drink on the Lido Deck.  Read about my blog post here:  ss Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere. 

#8 – VISIT A MUSEUM

There are several other museums to visit where the children will be entertained and at the same time learn something new. 

Natuurhistorisch Museum   Rotterdam features skeletons, stuffed animals, fossils, butterflies.

Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45  features all things pertaining to the War and the resistance. It’s a reminder of how people lived and what they did during the war. It is a treasure trove of information and stuff like cigar boxes, Jewish stars, etc 

Kunsthal  There is always something for families and children to do in the Kunsthal. Children between 6 and 12 years old can go on their own Look & Do tour of the main exhibition of that moment, while for teenagers between 12 and 18 years there are Viewer Guides. Get inspired by the exhibition ‘Masterly! Four centuries of drawing and painting’. Dive into the DrawingLAB and create your own work of art!

While I know there are so many MORE things to do in Rotterdam, these are some  of things to do with the kids.  When we do more things, I’ll add more details and photos.  Have any tips of fun things I can do with the kids?  

Check out my other blog posts relating to this fabulous city 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
ss Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere. 

 

The Euromast – Experience the most stunning views of Rotterdam

During the summer holidays, we took the kids to Rotterdam for a fun day out. They had already been to the Maritime Museum one time before we relocated to the Netherlands. Since we moved here, Soren has had season tickets to Feyernoord his favorite Dutch football team, so he’s been to the city many times, just never has he been a “tourist” in the city and visited the top of the Euromast until now.

The Euromast is Rotterdam’s iconic observation tower. It was built in 1960 to mark the occasion Floriade, an international flower and garden exhibition. Its height at 101 meters was the tallest building back in the days. Unfortunately, Euromast quickly lost its title due to the ever changing Rotterdam’s skyline. In 1970, Euromast retaliated with additional 85 meters by adding a rotating elevator – ‘Space Tower’.

We so cooly arrived by water taxi from the SS Rotterdam – which to the kids was extra fun way to travel. I was a bit nervous at first as I’ve seen how fast those dudes fly across the harbour, but it wasn’t so bad despite it being indeed really very quick! Before you knew it we were putting into the dock to get off at the giant temple like building – which turned out to be an Amazing Oriental – my favorite Asian grocery store here in the Netherlands. Didn’t stop in but good to know where this one is located as I’ll need to stock up on Korean pancake mix soon.

Having booked out tickets already online, it was very simple to walk in, scan your tickets and so right up. You are first instructed to take the first set of elevators up to the viewing deck where you can walk around casually and take in the sites… The views are amazing!!

After you feel you are windblown and had enough of the amazing views, you can choose to continue up to the Euroscoop or head back down…. we chose to wait and go up!

EUROSCOOP

When you are at the top of the viewing platform, you can take an additional lift up to the top and take a 360 degree “ride” called Euroscoop which gives you spectacular views and a narration of the city in Dutch and English). At this point you are 185 meters up! Due to COVID, they require the 1.5 meter spacing so less than the normal 25 people could go up – so expect a bit of a wait. The ride is about 8 minutes in total…. as with most touristy things – book early or later in the day to avoid the biggest lines.

ABSEILING – DO YOU DARE?

DINING OPTIONS

We didn’t have anything to eat or drink but there are dining options including breakfast, high tea, lunch, dinner and even a deli.  You can find them all on their website under restaurants. 

KIDS CLUB 

Every Sunday, and in the school holidays on Wednesdays & Saturdays, the Kids Club organizes various kinds of FREE activities in the Deli restaurant on the ground floor.   Some things include make your own superhero cape, typical Dutch games or build your own Euromast!

There is a gift shop on the way out but we didn’t buy anything – didn’t like any of the magnets.  But we did, however, on the way down, see one of those coin machines which turns pennies into flat souvenirs.  While we normally do those, this time we saw one that gives you a paper “euro” so the kids did that instead.  So now they both have a €0 Euro from the Euromast. 

SLEEP AMONG THE STARS 

For €395. per night, you can stay in one of two exclusive suites: ‘Heaven’ or ‘Stars’. These are located above the brasserie, next to the viewing platforms at a hundred meters above the ground.  Heaven faces the South, putting the world port of Rotterdam at your feet.  The somewhat smaller Stars, faces the North and welcomes you with a view of the Rotterdam skyline.  The price includes an elaborate breakfast (consumed in the suite or in the brasserie) and a bottle of champagne.   I assume brides stay here most often as you can even get married here. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Tickets are €10.25 for adults, €1 discount for adults 65+ and kids 4-11 are €6.75. If you live in the Netherlands, sometimes you can find discounted ticket deals on SocialDeals.com, Groupon or similar sites. You can also buy a combination ticket with a Spido harbour cruise on their site if you are interested. You can only pay by PIN so plan accordingly.

Depending on how you are arriving, go to their site for directions, but I highly recommend the water taxi.  Afterwards, we took the Tram over to the Maritime Museum.  Either way, I don’t think you’ll have a problem finding this world-famous structure!

 

Have you ever been to the Euromast?   Am I missing anything interesting? 

If you are like me and not a huge fan of heights, I was actually fine.  Even my 10 year old, who was afraid of going up, did fine and enjoyed the visit!  I highly recommend visiting the Euromast if you are visiting Rotterdam. 

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