Holland America Line’s flagship MS Rotterdam was opened to agents in Harwich last month, and I was delighted to be among a record number of cruise agents and clients visiting it.


A grey and wet August morning did not do justice to the imposing MS Rotterdam, which deserves to be viewed in more flattering surroundings.


I took with me a colleague who despite selling Holland America Line cruises had yet to visit any of its fleet.


I was keen to show him what MS Rotterdam has to offer families, as I think the general perception has been that higher standards mean compromising on children’s facilities.


We headed straight for the sports deck. Kids aged 13-17 years will love the Oasis, an parent-free outdoor haven with hammocks, chill-out areas and even a waterfall.


This area leads down to The Loft, a den designed to resemble a New York artist’s loft, with cool lighting, music and areas in which to relax.


Kids between three and 12 are catered for in Club Hal, where Holland America staff provide everything from toys and painting to arcade games and interactive fun.


There are two pools on board, the Lido Pool, with a retractable glass roof, and the outdoor Sea View Pool.


The Explorations Café offers books, music stations, and Internet access, so even if you travel during term time kids can keep up with their studies.


The verdict? Well, I’m a father of three, and I would have no worries about the kids getting bored.


And with a variety of staterooms, from Verandah suites to interconnecting staterooms, MS Rotterdam offers accommodation to suit most budgets and requirements.


The visit highlighted once again the importance of getting out there and seeing cruise product first hand.


Thanks to the Holland America team for their hospitality and for organising another excellent event.


by Andrew Winstanley, director, Americas4u/Click4cruise