I’ve been on a cruise ship before and now, I’m going again. Getting ready for the trip is fun but also stressful as there are so many things to do! We’re here to help you out with some of those tasks that seem impossible. First up: checking out the entire boat!.

The “do you go through customs after a cruise” is a question that many people ask before they take their first trip. The answer depends on the country the person is traveling to, but most countries allow passengers to pass through customs without having to leave the ship.

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. I’ve been sailing since I was a child, and nothing irritated me more than sea days when I was younger. They were terribly uninteresting to me. In fact, I used to plan vacations depending on how many port days the ship had in college and for a few years thereafter. Now fast forward to when I arrange a cruise based on how many days we’ll be on shore rather than how many days I’ll be able to gaze out the window while at sea.

Because of the time change, we had an additional hour of sleep last night, which meant another hour to stare out the window and listen to the ship churning through the ocean. 

Breakfast in the main dining area kicked off my day. On the ship’s aft end, the two-deck dining area serves a wonderful breakfast buffet that includes the usual suspects like eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, smoked salmon, crepes, and fruits. For an additional fee, they offered lobster benedict or steak and eggs. The Swedish pancakes and smoked salmon on a bagel, a ship breakfast classic, attracted my attention.

bagel and smoked salmon rotterdam

I went up to the Crow’s Nest to work after breakfast. With these views from the front of the ship, I forgot how tranquil this region was. There are also some very amazing displays that indicate how quickly the ship is going, its current position on the map, the direction, and the speed of the azipods. The displays here show a lot of the same information that the captain sees thanks to linkages from the navigational bridge a few levels below. To put it another way, this is cruise geek nirvana.

crow's nest rotterdam

Five hours had passed me by before I realized it, and it was time for lunch. Dive In Burgers is a burger shop near the pool where I had the cannonball in a lettuce wrap with a large salad inside. When your order is ready, they send you a pager that vibrates.

MORE: 8 Cruise Preparation Tips for 2021

This ship’s salad bar is by far the freshest at sea. And just because you’re being served doesn’t mean you can’t have as much as you want. I ordered the ahi tuna salad and requested for two additional scoops after they’d placed one on. It’s no issue!

Also delicious was the Dive In cannonball burger. It takes a little time to prepare anything here since everything is created to order. On the bright side, you know you’ll receive a freshly prepared burger. If you’re in a hurry, though, a hot dog would be a better option.

dive in burgers menu rotterdam holland america

I went to see what premium enhancements people could purchase since it was a picture-perfect sea day, and I came upon the hideaway sundeck. This is where you may rent a cabana with butler service on your own own small terrace, one level above the running track. And it was clear that individuals were taking advantage of it. Every cabana was filled at some time throughout the day, even though the ship was cruising at a reduced capacity. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, I can understand why you’d want to be in this region. During the time I was there, it was very peaceful. We were merely there to pass through since we hadn’t reserved a cabana.

rotterdam top deck

I’m undecided about the retractable roof pool deck. On the one hand, it’s convenient since they can close the roof on rainy days or when sailing in Alaska. On the other side, if you want to relax by the pool and soak up some rays, you’ll only be able to do so in particular areas. You can always walk to the rear of the ship and lie down on the open deck, but the main lido deck pool attracts a certain kind of companionship.


One of the developments in Rotterdam is the Half Moon Bar, which has taken the position of the wine mixing venue. This isn’t just another cruise ship bar, however; it serves Rotterdam-only drinks, many of which come with intriguing backstories that you can read about on the app. Although you may choose more standard beverages like beer, wine, or a mixed drink, the speciality cocktails are unique in both their contents and presentation.

half moon bar rotterdam

Tonight’s dinner was at Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Chef Rudi Sodamin’s high-end seafood restaurant. Chef Rudi has one of the most creative brains in the field, particularly when it comes to the artistic approach he has to food preparation, as I’ve known him for almost a decade. It’s one of the reasons his partnership with Carnival Corporation has been so successful, which includes the new Rudi’s Seagrill on Mardi Gras.

Our reservation was at 8 p.m., and I was very looking forward to this lunch since I love both Chef Rudi and seafood. I ordered escargot (of course! ), king crab soup, king crab legs, and a crepe with ice cream for dessert.

rudi's sel de mer rotterdam holland america

Crab legs are almost always an option on any menu, and you can bet I’ll order them. During the closure, I spent a lot of time skiing in Salt Lake City with friends. We’d have a case of crab legs delivered to my friend’s home from Tracy’s Crab Shack in Alaska. We’d chuck in a couple of pounds every night after returning home from the slopes.

Overall, the cuisine at Sel de Mer was excellent, however it took a little longer than I want to spend at a restaurant. To be fair, things take a while, as they do at most French-themed restaurants that provide fresh, made-to-order food. That’s simply the way the beast is. So, after asking whether it was possible to speed up our lunch, it ended up taking an hour and a half.

dessert rudi's sel de mer rotterdam

I stopped over Music Walk after supper to see what was going on. With various different music venues, some of which serve several functions, this is the place to go if you’re seeking for entertainment. The Lincoln Center Stage, for example, serves as B.B. King’s Blues Club. The Billboard Onboard piano bar and the Rolling Stone Rock Room are also available. Last time I was on a ship that offered Music Walk, we had a blast in the Rolling Stone Rock Room, where a band was playing Tom Petty, the Stones, and even AC/DC. We decided to give the venue another go, and it was just as entertaining on this ship as it had been on the previous one.

Some people think of Holland America as catering to an older demographic and being more tranquil, but let me tell you something: when I called it a night, there were still people rocking out in the club. On this trip, I’ve been blown away by how late people have been partying. After spending so much time locked up at home, it’s understandable that everyone wants to get the most out of their holiday. What better way to unwind than with a few beers and a good time?

When I returned to the room, I was met with a turned-down bed and a towel animal who was so adorable that I didn’t want to wake him up. I need a good night’s sleep since tomorrow is the start of two days at Half Moon Cay!

towel animal rotterdam holland america

Check out the rest of my Rotterdam travel reports!

The “how do guests find out about the disembarkation procedures on their cruise ship?” is a question that many people ask. Guests can check out the entire cruise ship’s information on the company’s website.

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