Renaissance Fort Lauderdale West

Ahead of our Holland America Lines cruise, we first spent a couple of nights at the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Hotel in Plantation, a 20-minute drive from the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Holland American Line works with several hotels in the area and facilitates pre-cruise stays around the city, with convenient transfers to the ship.

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[Renaissance Hotel room accents, seating]

This is a lovely property with a gym and pool that serves both local businesses (by way of several function and meeting rooms) as well as tourists in town for cruises or a sunny getaway.

Once we’ve boarded the MS Rotterdam, it’s a flurry of activity as guests head to lunch, visit their muster station (a pre-sailing requirement) and explore all that this world-class ship has to offer.

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Holland America has streamlined many features via their Navigator app that allows for connecting to the internet, booking excursions, viewing deck plans and viewing your account statement. A couple of restaurants offer the option of ordering via the Navigator app for pick-up too.

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The premium wifi package is well worth the fee as this is the best wifi coverage we’ve experienced aboard any cruise ship to date.

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[Verandah with view of Fort Lauderdale cruise ship terminal]

With the first two days of our Southern Caribbean Seafarer cruise spent at sea, there is no shortage of activities and opportunities to acquaint ourselves with the MS Rotterdam.

The World Stage, BB King’s Blues Club, Lincoln Center Stage, Rolling Stone Rock Room as well as several shops, restaurants, a library and numerous places to enjoy ocean views from are available for your enjoyment.

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[BB King’s Blues Club just getting started for the night!]

Our verandah stateroom on the Mozart Deck is located towards aft and as cruise ship staterooms go, is both tidy and functional within a compact footprint. The bathroom, closets and desk area all offer a good amount of storage space for two people to travel comfortably.

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As well, many spots (including the safe and mini fridge) are intelligently positioned for ease of reach, and several tiny shelves and cubbies around the room offer space for smaller items.

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The bedding and pillows are cozy (several pillow options available); we keep the verandah’s balcony door open for most of the sailing to take in that fresh ocean air (airco is in operation once your key card is inserted into the slot by the door and the balcony door is shut).

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[First sunset at sea]

Holland America’s housekeeping staff is warm, outgoing and service-oriented. Any requests are greeted with a smile and we notice that room make-up service is very quick and effecient from day to day.

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Power outlets are located at each bedside and at the small working desk, perfect for charging up phones, tablets, GoPros, etc.

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[World Stage, located on Decks 2 and 3]

There are many dining options available; several venues are included in the cruise fee, while other speciality dining spots are charged separately (Canaletto, Tamarind, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Nami Sushi, Pinnacle Grill). There’s also a gelato bar, a Grand Dutch Cafe and several bars scattered around the ship.

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[Chocolate sampling night aboard the ship]

The food presentation at Rudi’s Sel de Mer is stunning. Master Chef Rudi Sodamin and his culinary team have created a series of French-inspired seafood dishes that are equally delightful to look at as well as to savour.

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[Rudi’s Sel de Mer]

For beautifully-presented sushi, it’s Nami Sushi on Deck 10, shared with Tamarind Restaurant. Master Sushi Chef Andy Matsuda has trained the culinary team here to prepare delectable sushi and sashimi around an intimate sushi bar.

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Watch the chefs at work as each sushi order is created right in front of you. This sushi is every bit as a good as the sushi to be found in Vancouver!

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[Afternoon tea served in the Dining Room]

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[Tamarind Satay sampler: Malaysian lamb, Chinese beef, Thai chicken, Indonesian pork, Vietnamese shrimp, yuzu kosho, black bean powder]

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[Tamarind’s deconstructed Yuzu cheesecake]

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[Explorations Central & Cafe/Crow’s Nest]

A fast fave is the Explorations Central & Cafe/Crow’s Nest on Deck 12, with spaces for board games, puzzles, open seating for coffee and other refreshments as well as a more serene space for unwinding.

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We also admired the variety of artwork aboard the MS Rotterdam. Each floor houses unique sculptures, paintings and photos to enjoy, many containing eye-catching details.

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[Bossche bollen and coffee at the Dutch Grand Cafe]

When at the Grand Dutch Cafe, look for an illuminated, glass-topped table with tiny Delft blue windmills to admire as you enjoy a coffee and Dutch pastries (think Stroopwafels and Bossche bollen, the latter a city of Den Bosch specialty!).

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The mix of excursions, days spent exploring on our own, relaxing moments at sea and the vibe of this cruise made it a very memorable experience for us both and we look forward to more sailings aboard Holland America Line, currently celebrating 150 years of sailing!

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More photos of our cruise can be found here.

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We were guests aboard the MS Rotterdam for the purpose of exploring Holland America’s Southern Caribbean Seafarer sailing. Opinions, as always, remain our own.

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