Rotterdam, located on the North Sea, is Europe’s largest shipping port. As such, it was a major target during WWII, when much of its center was destroyed. What you see today is a vibrant, postwar urban city with outstanding architecture that plays off its riverfront setting.
What We Love
The Major Attractions Are Close By: The cruise terminal is adjacent to Holland America’s former headquarters, an ornate, early 20th-century building that survived the war. Now it serves as the Hotel New York, a place to enjoy both indoor and outdoor dining, or to book a comfortable room.
The Footbridge to Another Ship: A pedestrian walkway connects the cruise terminal to the SS Rotterdam, a wonderful museum that showcases creative 1950s interior design. You can tour, drink, eat, and spend the night in an original ocean liner cabin.
Best Known For
The Euromast: Completed in 1960 and extended upward in 1970, this observation tower gives you sweeping views of the surrounding skyscrapers and beyond. Enjoy a meal up in the clouds at the Brasserie.
The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen: It showcases Dutch painters such as Bosch, Breugel, Rembrandt, and Van Eyck as well as non-Dutch European masters.
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Who It's Best For
Architecture Buffs and People Who Love Big Cities: Rotterdam has rapidly developed as a center of eye-popping modern architecture and clever waterfront urban planning.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Rotterdam is not Amsterdam: Some people might look at stark Rotterdam next to historic, canal-crossed Amsterdam and wonder, “Why go there?” The best answer is that Amsterdam represents The Netherlands’ historic past, and Rotterdam represents its modern, urban present.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.