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The order for the S.S. ROTTERDAM (V) was placed with the Rotterdam Drydock Company, Rotterdam by the Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maastschappij (NASM) Holland America Line on October 27, 1955. Almost 4 years later on September 13, 1958 Her Majesty Queen Juliana of The Netherland would launch the S.S. ROTTERDAM. At 748 feet long, 94 feet wide and 38,650 tons the S.S. ROTTERDAM would be the largest ship ever build in the Netherlands. Following sea trials in July 1959 the new Flagship S.S. ROTTERDAM would be ready for her maiden voyage. Her maiden voyage leaving on September 3 from Rotterdam with calls to Le Havre and Southampton, before arriving in New York on September 11. The S.S. ROTTERDAM would sail from New York on her first cruise on December 11, 1959; a 49-day cruise circumnaviting South America. The S.S. ROTTERDAM would make her first world cruise in 1961, sailing from New York and 77 days later return to New York on April 14. In 1969 the S.S. ROTTERDAM would make her last regularly scheduled transatlantic crossing and would be converted to a one-class cruise ship.

The S.S. ROTTERDAM would make four more world cruises in 1993, 1995, 1996, and 1997. In September-October 1989 she received a $15 million dollar refit in at a Portland, Oregon shipyard updating her soft furnishings. On January 31, 1996 it was announced that the much-loved S.S.ROTTORDAM would be taken out of service on September 30, 1997. The reason given by Holland America (In 1989 Holland America Line was bought by Carnival Corporation) was the new SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) requirements coming into effect. The S.S. ROTTERDAM would make a farewell cruise at the end of her Alaska season departing Vancouver to Ft Lauderdale.

The S.S. ROTTERDAM would receive a new lease on life when Premier Cruise Lines purchased the ship, renaming her S.S. REMBRANDT. Premier would make the necessary SOLAS upgrades at a cost far less than the estimated forty million dollars HAL had claimed it would take. Premier would market the ship as the "Grande Dame" of the passenger fleet, and maintained her classic ocean liner feel. Liner lovers around the world where outraged when it was announced by Premier Cruise Lines that the S.S. REMBRANDT would be transformed into the BIG RED BOAT FOUR and would have her majestic hull painted a bright red. It was planned to have the ship sail out of Los Angeles on three and four-day party cruises and seven-day Alaska cruises out of Vancouver in the summer. On September 13, 2000 during a northbound New England/Canada cruise the Captain was ordered to return the ship to Halifax, Nova Scotia. After off-loading her passengers the Sheriff's Department arrested the S.S. REMBRANDT, but after satisfying her warrants she would later sail for Freeport, Bahamas where she would go into lay-up. Plans to sell the ship and the rest of the Premier fleet would fall through and Premier Cruise Lines would file for bankruptcy. The ship was finally purchased in 2003 by the Rotterdam Dry Dock Company, the same shipyard that built her nearly a half-century ago.

On June 17, 2004 the Polish tug ENGLISHMAN towed the former transatlantic liner from her lay-up at Freeport, Bahamas where she had been since September 2000 to the Gibraltar yards Camell Laird, where she arrived July 12. Her original gray hull color will be restored later in the year when the ship will be dry-docked. The final voyage to her permanent berth is expected to take place in the spring of 2005, with the inauguration expected for September of 2005. With her original name restored the S.S. ROTTERDAM will take on the new role of static museum ship and hotel on the city of Rotterdam's water front.


The Steamship ROTTERDAM Foundation

The ROTTERDAM dates from 1959 and is the largest passenger liner ever built in the Netherlands. She is numbered among the most successful liners which ever sailed the seven seas. The ship has largely maintained her original character, both in her interior appointments as well as in her outward appearance, and remains in very good condition. She has been moored under the name REMBRANDT in Freeport, Grand Bahamas since September 2000. Because of the ship's age and developments in the cruise industry, the ROTTERDAM faced the very real threat of being sold for scrap.

Against this background the Steamship Rotterdam Foundation was formed in May 2001 with the aim of stimulating discussion about and ultimately action in returning the ship to Holland and her lasting reservation and exhibition in a culturally and historically responsible manner. With the acquisition of the ship by the Rotterdam Dry Dock Company, the primary goal of the Foundation has been attained. Much work remains to be done, and the Foundation plans to continue to play an active role in the remaining phases of this tremendous project.

Artist drawing

Freshly painted in her original livery


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