SS Rotterdam is a ship that used to sail between the Netherlands and New York, starting from 1959. It’s turned into a hotel – ship today and while staying there, you can explore it and learn about the way it was navigated, or what people were doing during the long journey. I’ve spent a weekend on it with my son, and it was absolutely a highlight of our trip to Rotterdam.
History of SS Rotterdam
SS Rotterdam is a historical ship and a former ocean liner that used to sail on the Holland-America Line. Its first voyage was in 1959 when it sailed from Rotterdam to New York. It was one of the most elegant ships built in the Netherlands after the Second World War. However, with the growing popularity of air travel, it was later on used as a cruise ship. It finally retired in 2000, and it’s used as a hotel ship in Rotterdam since 2010.
Hotel – ship in Rotterdam
Since 2010 SS Rotterdam is docked in the city and it’s used as a charming four-star hotel. During our stay, the weather wasn’t the best, and it was heavily raining most of the weekend. So, it was definitely great to stay at SS Rotterdam because of so many interesting things we could do there.
How to get to SS Rotterdam
The ship is located a bit outside the city centre, some 30 minutes walking from the Erasmus Bridge. However, you can also use the metro and a bus to get there. There is a water taxi connecting it to the city centre, as well. So, there are many options for reaching it with public transport.
*TIP: We were using Rotterdam Welcome Cards during our stay, which allowed us to travel for free with the public transport. It was handy having them, and I’m recommending getting one of these to get around Rotterdam and explore the city easier. A really useful app for navigating public transport in the Netherlands is 9292.
Boarding the ship
After the whole day of exploring Rotterdam, we’ve finally arrived at our hotel. Although we’ve seen it before from one of the port cruises organised in Rotterdam, when we came and stand in front of the ship, we were both completely amazed by its size. We felt so small while standing there.
There are a few entrances to the ship. However, it’s easy to find your way around because stuff members are standing in front of it. They welcomed us and helped us find a reception desk. When boarding the ship, it felt like we were going on a real cruise. Entering the main deck, felt like stepping into the history. There was a beautiful wooden staircase there, sitting areas and a lovely piano, one of the guests was playing. The reception area was decorated with old suitcases, and dedicated entirely to maritime travel.
Room at the SS Rotterdam
When booking our double room I’ve taken a slightly larger room with windows (one of the interesting things you have to take care of when booking a room at the ship). It was surprisingly spacious, with a large bed, working desk, closets and a bathroom. It was really comfortable, and we had a lovely view of one of the symbols of Rotterdam – Euromast tower.
The area around the SS Rotterdam
After we’ve checked in, we went to the close-by area to have dinner. There are many restaurants at the Deliplein, which is only 10 minutes walk away from SS Rotterdam. Fenix Food Factory is a food hall and a lovely place with plenty of international cuisines to try from. However, we wanted a quieter venue and went to the nearby Burro e Salvia, a cute little Italian restaurant where we had a delicious pizza.
*TIP: We originally wanted to have dinner in one of the restaurants at SS Rotterdam. However, they were both quite busy and completely booked. So, if you would like to have dinner at SS Rotterdam, be sure to book your table in advance.
Spending a night at SS Rotterdam
Even though the area around SS Rotterdam is residential, it was still quite interesting to walk from the restaurant back to the ship. We’ve seen many great examples of street art. We were also quite lucky to see a bus from one of the Splash tours getting into the water just in front of the SS Rotterdam.
After we’ve come back, we listened to the piano music for a little while longer at the lobby and went to our room then. Although it was pouring with rain at the outside, it was so cosy inside the ship. We watched the city lights through our window. And Karlo made a drawing of a ship he wanted to send to Marijan. After that, we called it a day and went to sleep. The bed was so comfy, and it was tranquil, so we had some great night rest.
*TIP: SS Rotterdam is a great child-friendly hotel in Rotterdam, as well. When we were checking in, Karlo got a special bottle with a paper inside of it. He made a drawing on it and returned it to the reception the next day. And the guys from the SS Rotterdam sent it to the address we wanted to, then. These little details made our stay at SS Rotterdam really enjoyable.
Breakfast at SS Rotterdam
The next day we woke up early and were ready for a nice breakfast. Although we didn’t opt for it while booking a room, it’s possible to decide to have breakfast on a day and just get to the hotel’s restaurant. Karlo picked up a place for us which was just next to the window so we could enjoy a great view on Rotterdam. Breakfast was really delicious, and there were many different food options to choose from. We had some scrambled eggs a chef prepared in front of us (which was, of course, exciting for Karlo). But, there were many bread, cheese, fruit, vegetables and jam options, as well. We finished our breakfast in Dutch style with some hagelslag.
Tour at SS Rotterdam
Being a historical ship, SS Rotterdam is not only a hotel today, but some parts of it are used for music and theatre performances, or events and conferences. However, a part of it is used as a museum, and it could be visited on a guided tour.
So, after our delicious breakfast, we took some audio guides and went exploring this historic ship. We had some 13 stops during the tour. On each one of them, a person was explaining more about it. We’ve seen a dancing room, a night club and have learned about the art that could be seen on the ship. The most exciting part was, of course, seeing the captain’s suit and the bridge from which the ship was commanded. We really enjoyed that part. It felt like we were passengers travelling to America on one of the first SS Rotterdam’s voyages back in the 1960s.
We also watched a short movie about how travelling on SS Rotterdam really looked like back in the day. After going through the tour and learning about all of those interesting parts of the ship, Karlo earned his captain’s diploma, he proudly took back home with him.
Playmobile room at SS Rotterdam
After our tour, we were ready for a break at SS Rotterdam cafe. There is a Playmobile room for kids to play just next to it. So, while Karlo enjoyed playing there, I was sipping my coffee and daydreaming about slowly travelling to New York on one of these kinds of historical ships.
Staying overnight and exploring SS Rotterdam was absolutely a highlight of our weekend in Rotterdam. With its beautiful interior, exciting history and some really amazing and helpful staff, SS Rotterdam is one of the best places to stay in while in Rotterdam.
*We were provided with free Rotterdam Welcome Cards by Rotterdam Partners during our stay. However, I’m genuinely recommending getting them during your time in Rotterdam.
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