This past year, the cruise industry required patience and flexibility for both passengers and cruise lines. It was also marked by a host of new procedures, protocols and creative measures to ensure a safe sailing environment as the cruise industry worked hard to restart after the pandemic.
I sailed on Rotterdam, Holland America's newest Pinnacle-class addition, to close out the year, and it is a fitting ship to show just how the cruise industry has fully adjusted and adapted to the new travel environment. My experience on Rotterdam (as well as my earlier sailings on Azamara Quest and Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas) also helped to show me that the cruising experience is just as fun as it's always been.
Sure, it's a little different now. But fellow passengers I have sailed with this year say they have thoroughly enjoyed themselves despite being a bit worried at first about how cruising might be changed. The good thing is, not all change is bad. The need to socially distance and create fewer touchpoints has resulted in some advantages, namely the phone apps many cruise lines are rolling out. Holland America's free Navigator app helped make embarkation simple and fast. After presenting my passport, covid vaccination certificate and negative covid test, I moved quickly through security to the final checkpoint to have my picture taken and boarding pass scanned.
Throughout the cruise, the app was my constant companion -- I booked shore excursions, arranged specialty dining, checked deck plans, looked through the list of daily ship activities and even "favorited" some that were then added to a personal itinerary. As activity times drew closer, I received push notifications reminding me of when and where the activity was on the ship. Don't worry; there's no need to buy the ship's internet package to access it -- all passengers can use the Navigator app at no cost.
I have to say before I dive too deep into my time on Rotterdam, that this was my first experience sailing with Holland America Line. I share this because as a woman in her 30s, I was informed that the line tends to cater to an older demographic and to not be surprised if the fun ends at 10 p.m. Well, this was definitely not the case on my sailing, and you can see Holland America's efforts to attract younger passengers is working -- at least for me.
Who needs sleep when you have four fantastic music venues pumping out classical concertos, blues, pop and rock until 2 a.m.? HAL's innovative Music Walk has been a staple on several of its ships for years, and Rotterdam has four distinct stages offering tunes for every taste. As Rebekah Law, Rotterdam's Cruise and Travel Director says, it's the "best live music at sea."
The Music Walk on Rotterdam:
Did I mention there's a gelato bar there, too?
Every turn down a hall or walk up a flight of stairs meant I'd glimpse another stunning piece of art. I've never had so much fun running around trying to see them all. Do yourself a favor and take the time!
Here are a few of my favorites:
Selected Works: HAL's Rotterdam is Like a Floating Art Gallery
I hope you get a chance to cruise on this stunning ship soon.
Thanks for reading, and happy sailing!