Author Topic: SS Rotterdam V of 1959  (Read 21431 times)

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David TJ

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Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #15 on: Jan 05, 2010, 10:40 PM »
Good Evening Rob, everyone,
As for a book recommendation I should hold back as there has been a clutch of beautifully illustrated books over the past two or three years, anticipating her return to Rotterdam, and though I have them (all?) I have not read them all.  Stephen Payne's 'Grande Dame: Holland America Line and the S.S.Rotterdam' (Rina Ltd., 1990) provides a technical survey and general introduction with lots of photos but the more recent books are more sumptuously illustrated and possibly address the ship more as a set of interiors than as an engineered stucture (Payne is now Carnival's Chief Naval Architect and was architect of the QM2) .

Why work of art? Rotterdam V was one of the last ships of state, a ship built for the world's most prestigious line route consciously as a floating representation of the Dutch nation, its art and design.  It was more than a commercial undertaking, though I believe mostly paid for by HAL rather than state subsidy.  Importantly there was one overseeing eye. Jan van Tienhoven was the coordinating architect, commissioning work that not only adorned the ship but to some extent *was* the ship.  The ingenious main staircase (I can't explain how it works - think double helix) is not a staircase adorned with art but an art object - a vast, ship-high assemblage of glass and bronze.  I am trying to get essentially at the notion that this was not a ship for which nice art objects were commissioned but rather an entire piece.  The very best Dutch artists, sculptors and designers were commissioned to make pieces but not for display as in a gallery.  The Ritz Carlton Room is probably the best, but not the only, example of how this was done.  The room is essentially a scene under the sea.  Radiating arms crossing the ceiling are full of coloured bubbles - this is the surface of the sea above the crowd below in the room.  At the bottom is the rippled sand coloured and textured bronze dance floor.  In between a sea monster with fiery eyes slinks down the stairs that link upper with lower levels.  Built into the open railing a filigree of bronze nets has caught a shoal of brightly coloured enamel fish.  On the inner bulkhead wall a vast laquered mural, almost two decks high and the breadth of the ship by Cuno van Steene shows a view of islands in th ocean from on high, seen by a flock of flying cranes. Below it, behind the steward's station the wall clock is a sea urchin.  The whole room is one coherent piece made up from materials fashioned by a number of artists, brought together for sublime effect.  The furniture was chosen carefully - in a ship most of which is bespoke this was not but did come from a high end Danish desiner, Kay Fisker (Bruce Peter will correct me!).  So this was the depth of the concept - AND IT IS ALL STILL THERE!!!

Some observations (much influenced by Bruce) on national consciousness of engineering and design in another posting - this is long enough!

David, in very snowy Old Basing, UK

Online Alex Tarry

QE2 Hotel vs SS Rotterdam Hotel
« Reply #16 on: Jan 10, 2010, 10:41 PM »
I know we have discussed this here before, but look at these recently released pictures of the Rotterdam:-

If the Dutch can achieve this amazing result with their ship of state, surely QE2 can follow?  I am sure we all recall the original press releases from Dubai talking about restoring here interiors back to their 1969 glory, and we thought they were mad, well looking at this, maybe they were not?

I think the success or otherwise of the Rotterdam will be an indicator to all looking at historic ship preservation worldwide.  We are staying on her in March....

« Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 10:15 AM by Rob Lightbody »

Offline jdl

  • Britannia Grill Diner
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Re: QE2 Hotel vs SS Rotterdam
« Reply #17 on: Jan 10, 2010, 11:18 PM »
What a superb effort, I take my hat off to all those involved. The love and care (as well as time and money)  that has been spent is clear for all to see.

I'm definately going to visit and spend my money with them to prove that these types of projects can work. now all we need is the cash and vision for qe2.....


Offline citrail

Re: QE2 Hotel vs SS Rotterdam
« Reply #18 on: Jan 10, 2010, 11:20 PM »
Trouble is, maybe the Dutch still have some national pride, unlike some other european countries who've sold out everything to anyone >:(

Offline matdark

Re: QE2 Hotel vs SS Rotterdam Hotel
« Reply #19 on: Jan 13, 2010, 04:58 PM »
at least you guys managed to make QE2 have a future (whatever you may think of it), we got rid off ours in 1974 and didn't attempt anything to get her back 30 years later (I'm from France)

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #20 on: Feb 03, 2010, 12:32 AM »
Great new photos here, from Willem van der Leek's visits on 30 and 31 January 2010 :

Interesting comparisons with the ship's looks in 2004 (Gibraltar) and 2007 (Wilhelmshaven) as well as today.

Greatly looking forward to my visit, in just over 3 weeks' time now!

Offline Scott Ebersold

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #21 on: Feb 03, 2010, 04:35 AM »
What they have done with Rotterdam is really quite amazing.  Whenever I was on QE2, although I loved her, I always wondered why they had gone in the refit direction they did.  And why the couldn't have gone back.  The "bone" were so modern, surely there was a way to take that very futuristic structure and blend that with current design to create something that honored her original intention and resulted in something marvelous, forward-thinking, and luxurious.

If only ...

Offline Mauretania1907

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #22 on: Feb 03, 2010, 07:09 AM »
I am so glad that at least one lovely ship has been saved from the hellish scrap beaches, and I wish her and her owners a happy and prosperous future. Long live Rotterdam (which I saw when she came to Auckland once) and also of course a long and prosperous life to our lovely Queen E 2. See, it can be done (but needs huge amounts of cash)
The only person I have heard of who collected ships (and hired them out sometimes for hotel use) was a Greek ship-owner called,Mr Latsis (I think). Sadly, when he died, his ships were sold for scrap.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #23 on: Feb 11, 2010, 12:18 AM »
More photos here now, of those very 1950s interiors :

... and I am beginning to realise here that the whole ship is a work of art! Looking forward to seeing it for myself soon :)

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #24 on: Feb 25, 2010, 10:47 PM »
Off to Rotterdam tomorrow evening, for a week-end on board the ship with a group of Ocean Liner Society friends. Most of them, I first met on QE2, on a mini cruise to Rotterdam -- so they will be prepared to put up with me for a while if I keep nattering on about our favourite ship!

It will be a new experience to visit a fine classic ship, all tied up and stationary as a hotel. Will she feel like a ship? Like a hotel? We have decided to dress up for dinner at least once to make sure that we catch the mood!

My biggest interest though is to hear about what her restoration involved, what it cost, what her future prospects seem to be... all questions highly relevant to our struggle to save the QE2!

Offline Twynkle

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #25 on: Feb 25, 2010, 10:58 PM »
Have a lovely time, Isabelle.
Hopefully she will rock you to sleep in your dreams!
That is, if you don't stay up all night!

The Netherlands haven't got nearly as bad financial recession as GB
so there's probably less  financial concern for them!
« Last Edit: Feb 25, 2010, 11:02 PM by Twynkle »

Offline Mauretania1907

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #26 on: Feb 26, 2010, 07:40 AM »
Oh please, if Rob allows you, tell us all about your stay on Rotterdam. Sadly, she is a long way from NZ, or I too, would book a night or two aboard. Lucky you! (and maybe a hint on what could be done for QE2 - hints to Nakheel, especially)

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #27 on: Feb 26, 2010, 11:43 AM »
Oh please, if Rob allows you, tell us all about your stay on Rotterdam. Sadly, she is a long way from NZ, or I too, would book a night or two aboard. Lucky you! (and maybe a hint on what could be done for QE2 - hints to Nakheel, especially)

Rob (and the other Moderators!) has no problems with what we write in this section, just making sure that we keep it to one thread per ship. So there will definitely be a report about Rotterdam (whose refit for stationary use far predates the current financial and economic crisis). Meanwhile, Ellen, if you want to support another grand old museum liner, Hikawa Maru in Yokohama may tempt you? I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there!
« Last Edit: Feb 26, 2010, 11:45 AM by Isabelle Prondzynski »

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #28 on: Mar 07, 2010, 08:42 PM »
Here comes a slightly lengthy review of the SS Rotterdam week-end! Those of you who follow Liners' List will have seen that some of the other participants have sent in some criticisms of how the ship is managed, as well as some suggestions for improvements. To me, it is a miracle that she is there at all, living a new life as a hotel ship, and I enjoyed the visit and the week-end.

I have finally finished uploading the photos -- they are here :

I have added some narrative here and there -- a lot of it is incomplete and can be expanded, but it does contain my impressions as I went along, for these two and a half days.

What follows are my notes, written up on the train journey to Brussels. Let me start with the story of the outing.

The scouting excursion of the Ocean Liner Society to the SS Rotterdam started, for me at least, with the arrival at Rotterdam Central railway station. A 15-minute taxi ride took us round the harbour, via the Erasmus Bridge. We caught a fleeting view of the Cruise Terminal, where I had last seen Rotterdam from on board QE2 -- just a few weeks before the SS Rotterdam finally arrived "home" after her major refit for hotel service.

It was already dark when we arrived, and the first sight of the ship which by now I knew well from photographs, was awe-inspiring. A huge ship in port, mast and funnel well lit, downlighters on, and here and there a lit-up porthole -- a living and breathing ship which could have been in port as part of a cruise. We stopped and gazed for a few moments in the dark.

The main gangway is two decks up from the berth, and as the lift was not yet working, we heaved the suitcases up, then entered the ship at last. Check-in formalities were friendly, and soon, we were on our way to our respective cabins. The rest of the evening was spent exploring, before we settled down for supper in the Lido restaurant with the rest of the group and exchanged first impressions.

The next day, Saturday, was spent largely sitting and chatting and taking tea or coffee and walking around, before sitting and chatting and eating and drinking some more. The day ended with me walking up and down all the outdoor decks, enjoying the views in all directions, feeling the wind in my hair and once again thinking of the Rotterdam as a ship spending a night in port and about to set off again before long.

On Sunday, we explored some of the public rooms which had not been open until then, and took the Engine Room tour before setting out by water taxi for a snack in the Hotel New York, the old baggage handling hall of the Holland - America Line (HAL), now a wonderful café / restaurant, so popular that there was a queue of people waiting to be seated. In the evening, David and I dined magnificently in the Club Room -- this dinner was part of the package we had booked, and both food and ambiance made it an absolute highlight of the week-end.

Disembarkation breakfast on the third morning was, as such breakfasts invariably are, a rushed affair, before setting out once more for the station and the return ride to Brussels.

Pros :
- Free wifi working well in the restaurants and bars.
- Comfortable cabins, clean and with real portholes. Cabins are all different -- it is fun to organise a cabin cavalcade. Those with original furniture have beautiful craftsmanship of the 1950s on display. All of them have original magazines from the 1950s or 1960s, collected over several months from online auction sites -- a great touch.
- Both restaurants (Lido and Club Room) and the Ocean Bar are welcoming, the food is good, prices are reasonable and service is friendly.
- The Ocean Bar is almost in its original state, and is a pleasant place to sit and while the time away.
- The Club Room is justifiably popular, and advance reservation is necessary. It is a beautiful place in excellent condition and looking a lot better than it did under Premier, when it served as a Casino. Dinner there is a three-course "surprise" prepared by the chefs taking customers' wishes into account (in my case : fish or vegetarian), accompanied by wine selected to suit the relevant course. This dinner was the absolute highlight of the stay, every part of it shining with excellence.
- The Odyssee Room is open for lunch on Sunday only; reservation is required. Something to remember as a "must" for a week-end on board! If not taking lunch there, this is an excellent occasion for visiting the room quietly to take some photographs.
- The open decks are huge, generous in layout and offer magnificent views. It is possible to go all the way up to the funnels and the mast.
- The teak decks are in excellent condition after the recent refit.
- The ship is very popular at present with both hotel guests and day trippers, with some coming from distant places within the Netherlands or from neighbouring countries.
- I was with a group of highly knowledgeable people -- without them, I might not have learnt as much about the ship...

Cons :
- Much of the cabin furniture is not original, and there is no reason why this should be so. Most of the cabins are now quite large, consisting of two or three original cabins -- so there should have been plenty of original furnture to distribute across all cabins.
- Apart from the two restaurants and the Ocean Bar, there are no other places to sit, rest, read, chat -- not to mention getting a drink or a snack. There are no seats in the foyers, on the stairs, on the decks or anywhere else apart from the cabins (until, on the final day, I discovered four chairs and a bigger seat in the photographic exhibition area).
- There are (shortish) times of the day when the two restaurants and the Ocean Bar are all closed, so that neither seats nor snacks are available to visitors.
- The Ocean Bar can become extremely crowded over the week-end, so that service becomes slow and most customers have to stand as they take their drinks.
- Some running-in problems are apparent -- restaurant bookings do not always seem to work on first attempt, some of the cabins were not cleaned while others (including mine) were perfect, the Spido boat voucher was not recognised by the company when presented, the information given by Reception did not always match what actually happened.
- The two swimming pools are closed -- the outdoor one perhaps permanently, the indoor one will be restored some time.
- Some of the artworks have not yet been returned to display -- in some cases because the locations where they were displayed have disappeared and new locations need to be found.
- The ship is run by three separate companies -- that owning the ship itself, and the two tenants running the hotel and the conference centre respectively. Most of the public rooms have been rented out to the conference centre and are not open to the hotel guests or day visitors, nor are they included in the organised tours. We were only able to see most of them by glancing in through the windows. As the conference centre does not seem to be busy, it is a huge shame that these stupendous venues are being neither seen nor used. As the hotel is very busy indeed, these rooms could also take a lot of the strain and the overflow, provide the necessary seating and additional venues for snacks and drinks to be served.
- Some of the decks and some of their stairs are blocked here and there, which seems a totally unnecessary precaution, now that the ship is not travelling!
- More has to be done to make the ship a good place for a day's outing -- more public rooms open to the public when not in use by the conference centre, more places to sit, have snacks and drinks, more events (music, film shows, lectures, weddings, receptions, etc.).
- Hiring the Rotterdam as a venue is prohibitively expensive -- one man we met, who had waited for 5 years to celebrate his wedding on board, was so disappointed with the prices quoted, that he was close to deciding not to do it after all.
- The location is not ideal, as public transport does not go there, and there is nothing much else to see in the area. Spido boats and water taxis are available, however, and the short ride across the port to the Hotel New York is fun.
- The Rotterdam is now a hotel and not a ship -- hence, health and safety regulations have been tightened. This apparently explains why there are no seats on the landings of the main stairway, and why the lighting is a bit harsh in places.

Conclusions :

I was of course particularly interested to hear about the Rotterdam's preservation, restoration and future. Much of this is still very opaque to me.

But I find it an absolute miracle that this wonderful ship has been saved and that she is open to visitors at all! Whatever one might say about improvements that can or must be made, the fact that she is there at all, is a matter for congratulations all round. Once again, she is alive, in a different way from before of course -- but she is full of people and is earning an income.

I think the experience was a lot more difficult for those among us who had known the ship at sea -- and that made me think that most of us here would probably find it hard at first to see QE2 in a stationary role, if we and she were lucky enough for this to happen. It is so unlikely that she will ever again be the wonderful sea-going ship we knew... and even if this miracle happened, she would be different after her many months in Dubai and her change of ownership. We would have to be prepared to be both disappointed and grateful... if we are ever this lucky!

I do recommend that everyone visits the SS Rotterdam at least once -- it is only in this way that she will continue to live! And if she continues to live, she can inspire those who might wish to save QE2. Go and see for yourselves, and comment / make suggestions / criticise if necessary, so that further improvements can be made. This is the time to do it!

A few bits of personal advice for those about to book :

1. Ask for an ORIGINAL cabin. This will get you a cabin with original furniture and fittings -- we found some wonderful pieces during our cabin cavalcade. Probably a starboard cabin (sea view) is a good idea too.

2. Book the "Rotterdam over water" package -- great combination and good value too.

3. Make sure you have the dinner in the Club Room (included in the package). Difficult to get a reservation otherwise -- this superb restaurant is booked out well in advance.

4. Book Sunday lunch in the Odyssey Room. This is only open for the one meal per week, so if you want to see it in all its delightful state, book Sunday lunch there -- and if it is already booked out, go there anyway and discreetly take photos. We did so, and it was tolerated without any problems.

5. Don't worry too much about the open / closed rooms. Enjoy the places that are open, and that already gives you plenty to enjoy.

6. The decks are all accessible, all the way up to the bridge itself, in between the two majestic funnels, and all the way to the very front of the bow, Titanic movie style. They are lovely teak decks, and I had a wonderful evening wandering around and taking photos everywhere. The few bits of red tape here and there can be easily circumvented.

7. The engine room is preserved and can be visited by tour (included in the package). Only those bits that still contain asbestos are walled off from the rest.

8. The wonderful public rooms containing most of the art treasures are part of the conference centre, not the hotel. As such, they are not easily accessible. Start your charm offensive early enough, and you might manage to get a tour... definitely worth trying!

And finally, the price of the "Rotterdam over water" package for the week-end was very reasonable -- I would have been prepared to pay quite a bit more for the value I got.

Offline luzparis

Re: SS Rotterdam V of 1959
« Reply #29 on: Mar 07, 2010, 11:21 PM »
Isabel you re pictures are very very beautiful , i love the concept
and the restauration of this ship is a good work i have thé sentiment to return in
late 50's


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