Sneak Preview: HAL's Rotterdam VI

MONFALCONE, Italy -- When the Rotterdam VI sets sail in October, officials of Holland America Line said it will set new standards for ship design, much the way its predecessor, Rotterdam V, did back in 1959.

According to the line, the ship will be the fastest luxury-class vessel afloat, with a cruising speed of 25 knots. This will permit it to make more and longer port calls on Grand World Voyages, the ship's primary function.

Features of the Rotterdam VI include a specialty restaurant, Odyssey, designed to be reminiscent of a Venetian dining room, which passengers can book on a reservations-only basis.

The ship, for the first time, offers passengers a floor of suites with private concierge service. The Navigation Deck is a concierge deck with 40 suites, all with verandas, and with four in the penthouse category. A concierge desk is located in the center of the deck so guests can settle accounts, book shore excursions and have requests filled. A private lounge is accessible to concierge-level guests with a key card.

The ship has much in common with Holland America Line's other vessels, the Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam and Veendam. The basic layout of the public rooms, for instance, is similar. Officials said passengers immediately will recognize that they are on a Holland America ship when traveling on Rotterdam VI.

But as the line's flagship, Rotterdam VI also offers something special. The ship's hull is longer than other Holland America vessels. And instead of two staircases, Rotterdam VI features three.

The ship debuts on Oct. 6 with four inaugural cruises in Europe, before making its first transatlantic crossing for its U.S. introduction.

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