A perfect mid size and carrying just over 1,300 passengers, the 1997-built Rotterdam, and newer sister Amsterdam, are large enough to offer lots to do and small enough to feel intimate and not at all overwhelming. Both offer that nice combination of tradition — from the elegant two-story restaurant to the lovely wraparound Promenade Decks lined with wooden deck chairs and perfect for sunset strolls — and modern touches as well.
Like the rest of the fleet, both ships were upgraded a few years back to feature HAL’s Signature of Excellence enhancements, including the Explorations Café Internet center and coffee shop, enhanced kids’ facilities, a culinary-arts demonstration kitchen, and upgraded cabin amenities.
Throughout the Amsterdam’s public spaces, abundant artwork is centered on Continental and Asian themes, with the focal point of the ship’s atrium being a large reproduction of a Flemish clock. Everyone seems to spend quality time in The Explorations Café to check email, surf the Web or enjoy a latte, and the ship’s movie theater, card room and library are also well used.
Evenings, the piano bar and Ocean Bar are popular; the later for drinks, free canapés, and dancing to the tunes of a lively trio. There’s a classical repertoire in the elegant Explorer’s Lounge, Vegas-style productions in the show lounge, gambling in the glam casino, and late-night dancing in the Crow’s Nest observation lounge/disco (at the entrance, check out the life-size terra-cotta human and horse figures, reproductions of the ancient statues discovered in Xian, China).
The well-equipped gym is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows for ocean views and there’s a pleasant spa as well as two swimming pools, one with a retractable glass roof and a pair of hot tubs. The other pool is at the stern and now part of the HAL’s new Retreat area. A combo volleyball and tennis court is up on the Sports Deck.
The glamorous two-level main dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows and an elegant old-world vibe, while the 100-seat Pinnacle Grill is more intimate (and sans windows). Casual dining can be had in the cheerful Lido buffet restaurant, and you can also enjoy a poolside taco bar and the line’s new Italian section in the Lido as well as.
A roomy 182 to 197 square feet, standard cabins are awash in hues of blue, coral and mango colors, and there are bathtubs in all but the standard inside cabins, which is a rare find. All cabins boast a sitting area and a desk, plus flat-panel plasma TVs and DVD players, terry-cloth bathrobes, massage shower heads, lighted magnifying makeup mirrors, and super-plush bedding. A handful of spa staterooms include special amenities and convenient access to the spa and gym.
Of the suite categories, the Verandah Suites are a great value, measuring 374 square feet with a 189-square-foot veranda, dressing room and use of a concierge lounge.
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