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The Rotterdam is Holland America's flagship. This is the Rotterdam VI. It carries 1,316 passengers with 62,000 gross tons. Obviously with only 50 more passengers and additional 7,000 gross tons there is more public space then their other ships. Our cruise had about 1200 people on board and it never seemed overly crowded.

HAL has many alumni cruisers and tends to attract an older crowd. The Southern Caribbean/Panama cruise had over 70% alumni on board.

On some ships there has been a little language problem but on this one they all seemed to speak relatively good English.. Every ship we've been on has been clean and well-maintained. However, the Rotterdam is showing some signs of wear and tear. We don't know if it's age or the cutbacks that have caused this.

The wait staff in the cocktail lounges are very friendly and take service one step higher by learning your names and drink preferences if you frequent the same bar more than a few times. The food in the Lido buffet was good as usual with a large selection and food kept at the proper temperatures. The dining room has never been a disappointment with many entrees to choose from including healthy and vegetarian dishes, sugar free and fat free desserts. One of our tablemates was a vegetarian and they went out of their way to accommodate her.

There was a considerable cutback in staffing on this ship. Cabin stewards have more cabins to attend to. Our assistant waiter was not around as much as usual as he has more tables. However, the waiter was as attentive as always.

Several of us were very disappointed because we expected 3 formal nights (as indicated on our cruise documents and by tradition) and found there were only going to be 2. Several of us ladies brought this to the attention of the Hotel Manager. It's getting harder to know how to pack with HAL changing their minds on this after you board. This has happened before.

We enjoyed having the perks of a suite, including the concierge and Neptune's lounge. We used the concierge often and never had to stand in line at the front desk. She handled shore excursions, the reservations for the alternative restaurant, and also took care of any little problems we had due to some slip ups by our cabin steward.

The Captain's dinner was not to my liking. They held it in the "alternative" restaurant and seated people at various tables throughout the restaurant. Our friends (a party of 3) were at a table by themselves. We were with a woman and her 11 year old son. Some had tables of 6. We had no idea where the captain was and there were very few officers around. This made it seem like just any other dinner in the restaurant (except there was a fixed menu decided on by the Captain) ... not a special Captain's dinner for suite guests. Because of this, we declined the Captain's luncheon. On the Maasdam we had a separate room and there was a officer at every table.

The Neptune lounge had capaccino and expresso always available. During meal times there were light fares such as juices, sweet rolls & fruit in the morning, sandwiches at noon, afternoon tea, and appetizers in the evening. There was a special library and big screen TV with a sitting area.

The Kings Room next to the dining room is available to suite guests during breakfast and lunch and we frequented this often. The special attention was very nice.

In spite of the cutbacks, this was a very enjoyable cruise. We only hope service doesn't start to suffer more and the quality doesn't slip over time.