From liner to cruise ship

Up to now we have described the ROTTERDAM’s arrangements as a transatlantic passenger liner. It is a testimony to the vision of those who conceived the ship in the mid-1950’s that they envisioned the day that jet aircraft would one day take over the bulk of intercontinental passenger transport. For that reason, the ROTTERDAM was designed with the ability to convert easily to a cruise ship. As opposed to a liner, a cruise ship carries only one class of passengers. Thus it was required that on the ROTTERDAM the class divisions could be easily removed. As noted above, the partitions in the central staircase were therefore designed a sliding walls. However permanently opened nowadays, they are still present. Moreover, it is just because of this requirement that the two dining rooms were so similarly arranged and decorated.

This brilliant concept gave the ROTTERDAM an unusual flexibility. The horizontal division of the ship was emulated in the FRANCE (1961, 66,348 GRT) and the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 (1969, 65,863 GRT). On these ships, though, each class had its own stairways; as far as is known, the “Chambord-principle” stairway was only ever fitted aboard one ship. The Italian liners MICHELANGELO and RAFFAELO (1965, 45,911 GRT), which were built as three-class ships, kept to vertical division of the classes. Each dining room was only accessible from the cabins of the corresponding class. They were formidable liners, but dismal failures as cruise ships and were taken out of service after only ten-years’ use. Our volunteers reproduced a part of a sliding wall on Upper-Promenadedeck.


An original sliding wall on Upper-Promenadedeck   picture Klaas Krijnen

Few ships have made the transition from transatlantic liner to cruise ship as easily and successfully as the ROTTERDAM. It is unique that a large passenger ship has remained in service for some forty years, especially in almost original condition.