Rembrandt 2000

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Launched in 1959 as the S S Rotterdam
and refurbished in 1997 as Rembrandt
38,650 tons, Length 738 ft, Beam 94 ft, Draft 29.6 ft
Cruising speed (1997) 17 knots
1,106 passengers, 550 crew

Itinerary = ports at anchor
24th September
- Fly to New York, USA
and board Rembrandt
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-Bar Harbor, Maine
Wednesday-Halifax, Nova Scotia
Thursday-at sea
Friday-cruising Saguenay Fjord
Saturday-Quebec, Canada
1st October
-Montreal, Canada - disembark
and Fly overnight to UK
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In her latter years known as the "Grande Dame", she was originally the 5th ship to bear the name "Rotterdam" but was undoubtedly the most famous, assisted by her striking lines and her distinctive interior design - all the more remarkable for the fact that, even after nearly 40 years' service with Holland America Line, her public rooms remained more-or-less intact and unaltered.

Show Picture Full Size By 1997, she had been so lovingly maintained that, when they finally decided she was too costly to operate, she was bought by Premier Cruises, a small cruise line which specialised in operating a number of "old ladies" that were, in fact, beautiful old ships in remarkable condition.

Premier Cruises prided themselves on their "traditional" approach to service; they had established a reputation for quality and in 1997, things looked again hopeful for this Queen of the seas.

In October 1998, now christened "Rembrandt", she arrived to great applause in Southampton and, as a member of the Ocean Liner Society, I was fortunate to get a place with the group invited to visit her there. We were all given a tour of the ship, were entertained in her famous "Ritz-Carlton Club" lounge and even enjoyed lunch in her "La Fontaine" dining room. Show Picture Full Size

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The La Fontaine Dining Room Dawn arrival in Southampton The famous Ritz-Carlton Club Who wouldn't book with an ad like this? The Theatre
I was spellbound and instantly fell for her. She was a ship of "my age"; she was everything I loved about liners and she was in near-perfect condition. I resolved that I had to travel on her.

However, 1999 was already a "busy" year for cruises, what with Arcadia in March, Black Watch in June and Caronia in December, so it wasn't until 2000 that I managed to pluck up courage to book a trip on her. This was to be my first cruise alone and it was going to be very special for me as a liner enthusiast because she would be the oldest traditional Atlantic liner that I would have travelled on.

I booked a single ocean view cabin on Boat Deck, Cabin 60 and I was going to join her in New York on the first leg of her "Fall" cruise to Montreal and back via the New England ports.

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Rotterdam cruising in Alaska My cabin would have been on Boat Deck! In Gibraltar in 2004, about to be renovated In 2006. Restored to her original Atlantic livery

Just 9 days before I was due to go, the news broke that Premier Cruises had ceased trading; the Company's ships were all "impounded" wherever they were and the passengers sent home. I was devastated. More than that, I was kicking myself for not booking earlier in the year. It was inevitable, I suppose, that trying to continue running these lovely old ships while still maintaining such a high standard of service was not going to prove viable in the long term. Very few passengers are liner enthusiasts; they want what the new ships can offer - for the same price, or less.

As for the old Rotterdam, it has been a rough time. Uneconomic, she was very nearly lost to scrap but she was saved at the last minute by a consortium hoping to restore her as a static hotel and museum - in the port of Rotterdam no less! As soon as she opens, guess who will be visiting!

Cruise Mileage: 0 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 75,258 n miles

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