The following excerpt is from GRANDE DAME: Holland America Line and the S.S. Rotterdam by Stephen M. Payne. In the epilogue he writes:
For over thirty years the S.S. ROTTERDAM has graced the oceans of the world with her style and magnificence; and what magnificence! The last example of a "Ship of State", a liner of yesteryear, a wonderful anachronism. To sail the ROTTERDAM is to sail in a time machine where time passes all too quickly as the fatal alluring charm of the ship takes hold of your senses. Cossetted by a friendly crew, tempted with gourmet food and entertained within spectacular surroundings, the magic soon takes hold as the ROTTERDAM glides on. Forever on towards your final destination. Suddenly the cruise is over and it is time to say "Tot Ziens" to new and old friends, perhaps with the happy expectation that you might be back one day on the Grand Dame, supreme temptress and "Queen of the Cruising Fleet". As the ROTTERDAM steams away withher next group of passengers and slips across the horizon, she inevitably steams closer to the day when she, like the NIEUW AMSTERDAM - Darling of the Dutch, will sail away, not with happy passengers, but to oblivion. Thankfully with the memory spent on the great ship during her 1989 life extension refit, that unhappy time will be some way off in the distant future, at the time of writing (February, 1990), perhaps in another ten years.
What does make the ROTTERDAM so special? Probably the realisation that she is the last of her kind. An era gone by. Whereas modern ships have plastic, the ROTTERDAM has polished woods. Whereas modern ships have chrome, the ROTTERDAM has gleaming brasswork. Whereas modern ships have low deck heads, the ROTTERDAM has soaring lounges and restaurants. Whereas modern ships look like square boxes, the ROTTERDAM looks like a ship. Despite three decades of service, the ROTTERDAM remains the perfect luxury ship, well able to hold her own against more modern flashy contemporary vessels. Rarely is such perfection achieved in naval architecture. What a shame there are not more liners like the Grande Dame ROTTERDAM, magnificence beyond compare!
*1990 RINA Ltd, London England
Well said! Unfortunately Mr. Payne was wrong by about three years. The Rotterdam was retired on September 30, 1997. Her final voyage began on September 12 in Vancouver, BC and ended on the 30th in Fort Lauderdale. The name Rotterdam will than be transfered to Rotterdam VI, now being completed at Fincantieri, Italy.
Not too long ago I had a chat with a friend, Richard Faber. We discussed the disappointment of going to a memorabilia show and not coming home with anything. He made a comparison and paraphrased John Maxtone-Graham who said, in effect, that there is nothing worse than watching a ship leave New York harbor and you not being on it. I agree, but can do him one better. There is nothing worse than seeing the Rotterdam leave and knowing that no one can be on her.