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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author


Please Note: All ssMaritime and my other related ssMaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write articles on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!



Please Note: Photographs, postcards and images on this page are from the author’s collection unless stated otherwise!


Part Eight

The Campaign Has Succeeded!

Please Note:

If you arrived at this page via a search engine: Please read Part One first!

PLEASE NOTE: This Eight Page SS Rotterdam V Feature has been completely updated as well had five brand new pages added. However, I wish to announce that this feature is in reality a new work is also my very last ever work that I will do for ssmaritime or for any other of my sites. I have done so for reasons that may be well known to many of my regular readers. Therefore, I have now fully retired and will sit back and I am joyful with what I have achieved and I trust that you will enjoy reading the well over 620 classic liners, and other ships that are online! Thank you for your wonderful support I has been greatly appreciated!

Best wishes,

Reuben Goossens.

Maritime Historian & Founder of the “Save The Classic Liners Campaign.

And the “Save The SS Rotterdam Campaign.”



This superbly built Dutch Trans-Atlantic liner was known as the “The Grande Dame” was launched by HRH Queen Juliana at a gala ceremony on September 13, 1958, and she departed on her maiden voyage on September 3, 1959. The SS Rotterdam was the last of the great Dutch “Liners of State.” For thirty eight years she sailed as the SS Rotterdam for Holland America Line (HAL)       , then in 1989 HAL was taken over by Carnival Cruise and it was not long before they decided to rid themselves of the ship they actually called thatOld Ship.”

In due course Carnival made claims in regard the cost of bringing her up to date SOLAS regulations and also stated that the refit would destroy her original interior décor and all her public venues would be changed. However, these claims were proved to be completely false, for when Premier Cruises purchased her in 1995 and the complete SOLAS works completed to the ship, amazingly, it only cost half the amount that Carnival had claimed and there was no damage to her beautiful interiors whatsoever! The Rotterdam continued to sail for a further three years having been renamed, SS Rembrandt until the tragic demise of Premier Cruises in September 2000.

Part Eight contains the story of how this great and innovative Trans-Atlantic Liner and Cruise Ship was saved from destruction on a tragic breakers beach on the Indian continent, where she could well have certainly ended up, if campaign’s such as my “Save The SS Rotterdam Campaign” and the Save the Classic Liner Campaign,” which I originally commenced in 1995, but placed online in 1997. But in regard to the great SS Rotterdam, I should say that at a later date, I began to work with an excellent Dutch concern by the name of; “Steamship Rotterdam Foundation” with its Chairman, later the President Mr. Klaas Krijnen, but I will speak on this more regarding this later.

Reuben Goossens.

Commenced in the Passenger Shipping & Cruise Industry in 1960.



Rembrandt’s Troubled Times:

With the SS Rembrandt laid up in Freeport in September 2000, a number of options were thrown around from various sources: One was to operate her on a “Time-Share Marketing Model,” and this idea had been slowly taking shape in certain areas, with the idea being to see the ship cruise the world year round and people could purchase a cabin on a lease basis and spend as much or as little time on board as they wished! Of course these days it has become a great success but in the 6 Star Luxury market! But that was not to be for the ex SS Rotterdam!

Another idea was to have the Rotterdam permanently berthed in the city that was certainly not her Homeport, but Amsterdam, where she would be used as a floating hotel, tourist and cultural center. However this plan never looked like becoming a realization and tragically as time passed sadly it almost seemed that the great SS Rotterdam would be sold to Indian or Bangladeshi ship breakers for that seemed to be one of the great threats hanging over our heads and we had to do everything possible to stop this from happening!

Here we see the SS The Big Red Boat II & SS Rembrandt laid up at Freeport

Photograph by & © Klaas Krijnen

With myself at the helm of “The Save The SS Rotterdam Campaign” I was not going to allow that to happen! I was in contact with a number of influential people in the United States as well as the Netherlands and with their assistance I was slowly getting somewhere, but it was not as easy as that!

SS Rotterdam Saved from Doom:

Then in May 2003, the good news had come from my Dutch contact that the SS Rembrandt was purchased by the “Rotterdam Dry Dock Company” (RDDC), being a part of the “Rotterdam Dry Dock Company” (RDDC) the very company that built her! Thus this great ship had just been saved from the breakers! But it became obvious that she required to be relocated as she needed a great deal of work.

The bow of the SS Rembrandt, ex Rotterdam seen in Freeport, with the stern of the The Big Red Boat II, ex Eugenio C

Photographer unknown – Please see my Photo Notes at the bottom of the page

Freeport to Gibraltar:

It would be just over a year later that the SS Rembrandt departed Freeport on June 15, 2004 undertow of the Nassau-registered Polish tug The “Englishman,” arriving at the Camell-Laird Ship Yard at Gibraltar on July 12, 2004. In Gibraltar she was supposed to have her asbestos cleaned-up as well as other works done, instead nothing was done and she remained in a lay-up condition.

The Rembrandt arrives in Gibraltar on July 12, 2004

Photograph by & © David Tombs

Rotterdam Dry Dock Company Troubles:

Sadly RDDC the ships owner headed into financial doom, and the Rotterdam became the property of the City of Rotterdam, by default. They commenced to seek a buyer with the hope to retain the ship in the City and for the purpose as planned! Thankfully I was in contact with the Directors of Woonbron a housing company and he immediately was interested!

New Owner:

During this time there had been negotiations between the City of Rotterdam and “Hotel Cruiseship Operations 2” (HCO2), being a large Hotel and Casino operator, who had made clear that they wanted to remove all the asbestos on the vessel. Preparations made clear that it was too expensive to remove all the asbestos. Within six months negotiations ceased. However, there were also talks between a housing organisation, which were by far more successful: The housing company was Woonbron BV and they together with an informal investor “Eurobalance” decided to buy the Rotterdam and they established a new company De Rotterdam BV.” On June 30, 2005 it was made public that this company would go for an asbestos-safe situation and for dry-docking. We need to understand that asbestos can be found in many hotels and building everywhere, but if it is in sealed units, such as in walls and ceilings, etc, it is completely safe, and like everything it required ongoing maintenance and the ship had been perfectly maintained! However, the majority of asbestos was removed whilst she was later in Germany.

Another fine view of the SS Rembrandt berthed in Gibraltar

Photograph by & © David Tombs


Here we see the Rembrandt still berthed in Gibraltar in 2005

Photograph by & © David Tombs

Cadiz, Spain & Gdansk, Poland:

Having been in Gibraltar far too long with nothing done, RDDC decided to move her and it was decided to have her head to Cadiz, she departed Gibraltar on November 24, 2005 under tow by the Spanish tug “V B Artico,” arriving in Cadiz, the next evening November 25, 2005 but she was placed at anchor for the next 22 days.

The Rembrandt arrives in Cadiz on November 25. 2005 and will be laid up until she will enter dry-dock

On December 18 she entered dry-dock, where after a good cleaning and preparation, her hull and superstructure was completely repainted in her original 1959 livery. In addition, whilst she was there the ship was thankfully renamed the “Rotterdam” once again and she was registered in Rotterdam the Netherland’s, just like she used to be originally!

The Rembrandt is seen being transformed into the SS Rotterdam again, whilst in dry-dock between 3 to 18 January 2006 from her blue hull to original grey

as well as renamed and reregistered in Rotterdam!

-Photograph by & (C) De Rotterdam-BV

She left her dry-dock on January 31, 2006 looking absolutely supreme! The great SS Rotterdam departed Cadiz on February 10, undertow once again by the Spanish tug “V B Artico” and this time she slowly headed for the troubled port of Gdansk in Poland, where she arrived on February 27, 2006.

SS Rotterdam Arrives at Gdansk Poland on February 27, 2006

Photograph by & © Klaas Krijnen

Home to Rotterdam:

As I indicated, the Rotterdam had a troubled time whilst she was at Gdansk for there were a number of ongoing problems including workers being on a general strike but also problems with the authorities in regard to the removal of the asbestos, they just could not make up their minds and seemed to fight amongst each other! Thus it became necessary for the Rotterdam to depart Gdansk, and she did so on August 27, 2006 after ongoing delays, typically just like everything else in Poland, and by the use of several tugs, she headed for Wilhelmshaven in Germany where she docked early in the morning of Saturday September 2, 2006 where her massive restoration work would be ongoing until she was a ship completed to perfection, and she was indeed her old self once again, very much the SS Rotterdam of 1960!

The Rotterdam arrives at Wilhelmshaven Germany on September 2, 2006 for further work and asbestos removal

Photograph by & © Mr “I am everywhere” - Klaas Krijnen

Having had so much work done and the SS Rotterdam looking so much like her old self, just like the day she departed on her maiden voyage in 1959, she departed the German port of Wilhelmshaven on August 2, 2008 and was towed to her original Homeport, the City of Rotterdam. The SS Rotterdam would spend five days at sea and retracing some of her old sea-lanes the North Sea.

SS Rotterdam seen undertow in the North Sea: The photograph was taken from an Aero Lin Photo BV plane on February 19. 2006

Photograph © De Rotterdam BV

Upon approaching Rotterdam, she turned into the “Nieuwe Waterweg” being the canal and continued until it becomes the “Nieuwe Maas” River until she reached her temporary berth that awaited her.

Here we see the SS Rotterdam arriving in Rotterdam on August 4, 2008

Photograph by & © Klaas Krijnen


Another fine view of her bow as the Rotterdam arrives home

Photograph by & © Gerard-Vaas

All the aforementioned voyage to Rotterdam occurred on August 4, 2008 when the SS Rotterdam triumphantly arrived in Rotterdam where thousands of people were lined up quayside and countless small pleasure boats as well as some larger tourist boats and other ones went out to meet the ship and followed her, which was quite a flotilla, making it a most festive occasion!

SS Rotterdam will soon be at her berth and be made ready to head for her permanent berth and open as a Hotel!

Photograph by & © Klaas Krijnen

In Rotterdam, there would be further work undertaken mostly working on her interiors and her overall décor in order that she would become as much as possible her old self, but with some new touches. Obviously the SS Rotterdam was about to become a Hotel and Tourist Centre and therefore she required having certain new and modern touches. Strolling around her beautiful Lounges you will discover large HD flat screen TVs. But, the vast majority of her public venues were very much carpeted and furnished in the very much the same manner as she was during days she was “The Grande Dame of the Sea” and therefore today she is the “Pride of Rotterdam.”

In addition, many of her original of her First Class Cabins and Suites had to be converted into luxury rooms, suitable for a luxury Hotel, but there are some great rooms that provide that feel of yesteryear with some original fitting and portholes, for those who love those grand old days! The Hotel was certainly fitted out to perfection, ensuring that she would be popular with Tourists, and as I already indicated there are various styles of accommodations available.

When she was completed, the SS Rotterdam was berthed at the “Katendrechtse Hoofd” where special pillions had been fitted in the water ensuring that she would be fast, as well as her special boarding facilities with lifts as well as providing ample car parking.

Finally, having fought so hard from 1995 until 2003 when she purchased by RDDC and the ongoing years of turmoil of her asbestos removal, which I have not even described in full, as well as other problems, came the great day!

It was on February 15, 2009 when the SS Rotterdam, looking so grand at her berth was officially opened as a Hotel and a Tourist Complex with fine Restaurants, Cafes as well as Conference Facilities. It was a joyful experience for everyone who was involved in “Project Rotterdam.”

This is the SS Rotterdam in 2011, whilst she was still owned by De Rotterdam BV

Although the next year she would be sold to a new company!

Photograph © De Rotterdam BV

WestCord Hotels:

Here we see the bow of the new WestCord Hotel SS Rotterdam in 2014

Photograph © WestCord Hotels

Then on Friday October 26, 2012 the ships owners “De Rotterdam BV” (*Woonbron) announced that they had sold the Rotterdam that day to a large Dutch based Hotel Company “WestCord Hotels” who also own the famed “Hotel New York”, being the original Holland America Line head office located on the original HAL wharves. The sale is said to have been for 29.9 million Euros, but the official transfer of the Rotterdam to WestCord will take place before the end of April of 2013. With the acquisition of the Hotel SS Rotterdam, WestCord will now have a total of 15 Luxury Hotels throughout the Netherlands.

For interest “De Rotterdam BV” or *Woonbron BV,” is a Dutch housing corporation and they spent 250 million Euros restoring the great SS Rotterdam into a fine Hotel, Dining venue and a Museum. Renovating the ship had cost far more than had been originally planned and it placed a massive financial burden on the company and this forced the eventual sale of the ship. However, they did do the work having obtained the ship in 2005 and completed her and finally sold her a good seven years later, I believe that Woonbron did a mighty job!

A Mini Timeline:

Premier goes bankrupt on September 13, 2000. The Rotterdam was ordered to return to Halifax where she was placed under arrest.

She departs Halifax and arrives at Freeport, the Bahamas on September 21, 2000 and laid up.

May 2003 sold to “Rotterdam Dry Dock Company” (RDDC).

Departs Freeport, June 15, 2004 - Nassau-registered Polish tug “Englishman”

Arrives Gibraltar, July 12, 2004 - Camell Laird yard at Gibraltar

Departs Gibraltar, 24 November 2005 - Spanish tug V B Artico.

Arrives Cadiz, November 25, 2005 placed at Anchor.

Enters Cadiz Dry-dock, 18 Dec 18, 2005.

Out of Dry-dock, January 31, 2006.

Departs Cadiz, Feb 10, 2006 - Spanish tug VB Artico.

Arrives Gdansk, Feb 27, 2006.

Departs Gdansk on August 27.

Arrives at Willemshaven, Germany on September 2, 2006 for refit & restoration.

SS Rotterdam departs Wilhelmshaven bound for Rotterdam on August 2, 2008.

On August 8, 2008 the “Grande Dame” SS Rotterdam triumphantly arrives in Rotterdam, where she will be completed.

February 15, 2009 she is officially opened.

October 26, 2012 SS Rotterdam is purchased by the Famed Dutch “WestCorp Hotels Group.”

April 2013 “WestCorp Hotels” officially take over the running of Hotel SS Rotterdam.


Mission accomplished!

It has certainly been an enduring, hard fought and an amazing campaign, but the good news is that we had an outstanding result and I am certainly delighted! Although I commenced this campaign such a long time ago (20 years ago from time of writing this), I do have to state for I certainly did not work alone. At a later date I discovered the good work of the Dutch Organisation of “Steamship Rotterdam Foundation” (SRF), which was headed by the Chairman, later the President, Mr. Klaas Krijnen with whom I have remained in contact for a considerable time and I am most grateful to him and SRF, for all the great work they have done!

When I first found SRF around 2001 or 2002 and saw the effort they were putting into saving this great ship, I then decided to hand over my part of the campaign to them, but I continued my side of the campaign as per usual, but on a promotional basis and actively supported them online via the “ssMaritime” & “Save The Classic Liner Campaign” Websites as these pages have a far larger readership from all over the world, (I am speaking of several hundred million at the time) and it delivered SRF a large number of my readers and many of them became members.

The “Grande Dame” is Home Where She Belongs!


The Excellent WestCord Hotel SS Rotterdam seen at her permanent berth in Rotterdam

Photograph by & © Philippe Pierre Brebant – used with permission



SS Rotterdam INDEX:

Part One:             Construction & her Maiden Voyage Sep 3, 1959.

Part Two:            Her Grey Hull days - Sep 1959 to 1971.

Part Three:          Her HAL days & Premier Cruises days - 1972 to 2000.

Part Four:            Brochure - Page One.

Part Five:            Brochure - Page Two.

Part Six:              Deck Plans, 1959 First & Tourist & a later One Class Cruise Plan.

Part Seven:         SS Rotterdam 1959 Specifications & Engine Room photos by Klaas Krijnen.

Part Eight:           Saving the Rotterdam 1995/97 - 2009 - This Page.


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Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author seeks no funding or favours of any shape or form, never have and never will!

Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

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