YSA Design serves modern cruising needs on HAL flagship Rotterdam

29 November 2021 – The distinctive look and feel of a cruise ship delivered in 2021 has been turning heads during the inaugural season of MS Rotterdam, but Holland America Line’s (HAL) new flagship also includes some familiar features.

The 2,668-guest Pinnacle-class cruise vessel left Amsterdam on a 14-day passage to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before entering a schedule of Caribbean cruising during November.

Observation lounge onboard HAL

For Oslo-based architecture and design firm YSA Design, which developed several public areas on board Rotterdam, the 297-metre passenger ship brought a mix of familiar territory and new ground.

In addition to lift lobbies and cabin corridors, YSA was responsible for the same leisure venues it had designed on the vessel’s sister ships, MS Koningsdam and MS Nieuw Statendam. For example, the World Stage theatre, with its two-storey, 270-degree wraparound LED screen – an industry first when it debuted on Koningsdam – remains a prominent attraction, as does the innovative Observation Deck with interactive tables, first introduced on Nieuw Statendam.

However, YSA Design senior architect and project lead, Trond Sigurdsen explains that HAL has expectations which involve continuous evolution. “With its Pinnacle fleet, Holland America Line wanted a fresh and contemporary aesthetic and Rotterdam is its latest inspiring example,” he says. “The ship is designed at the ‘human scale’, with smaller private spaces being central to the relaxing atmosphere onboard. Although the basic layout of the ship is the same, Rotterdam is very much reflective of modern times.”

To achieve the desired ambience, YSA opted to divide open areas into more compact and intimate spaces, allowing cruise guests to spend time in smaller groups. This extends to outdoor decks, where guests experience personalized service and the feeling of specialness associated with smaller ships.

Equally conducive to Rotterdam’s relaxing atmosphere is YSA’s expertly curated art collection, which features depictions of animals and nature in the public spaces as well as restful aquatic-themed artwork in the spa area to help guests disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Spa area onboard HAL Rotterdam

“Art is a powerful medium for conveying emotion and setting the mood in any public or private space,” explains Sigurdsen. “Generally, architecture informs our choice of artwork, but on Rotterdam, artwork inspired the architecture. In the spa’s Hydro Pool, for instance, the large glass sculptures resemble windows into the ocean and provided the starting point and frame for the rest of our design work.”

Art is also key to Rotterdam’s modern aesthetic, with music-inspired pieces adorning walls, halls and corridors throughout the ship to reflect the main musical themes of Pinnacle-class ships. These include hand-carved vinyl records and unwound cassette tapes portraying the faces of iconic musicians; a world map spray-painted onto a set of speakers; and sculptures in the shape of musical instruments.

Meanwhile, the YSA-designed, deck-10 Pan-Asian restaurant, Tamarind, features stunning East Asian-influenced artwork including a traditional Japanese dress crafted of satin ribbon and two fibreglass sculptures depicting China’s famous terracotta warriors.

YSA Design’s relationship with HAL dates back to a refurbishment and conversion project on a previous iteration of the cruise line’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam in 2001. Since that time, the two parties have collaborated to refurbish 10 cruise vessels in line with HAL’s Signature of Excellence initiative, design half of the public spaces on board 2007’s MS Eurodam and develop the Observation Deck fleet concept featured on Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam.


About YSA Design

Founded in 1985, YSA Design is one of the world’s leading architects and design studios for the cruise ship industry. It has decades of experience that extends from the concept stage, to General Arrangements, interior and exterior design solutions, materials selection and project management in the shipyard. In recent years, we have also completed a growing number of land-based commissions.

Our philosophy is to deliver designs that are both functional and unique: we do not limit our customers to one style; instead, we offer diversity and designs that are tailor-made for each commission. YSA Design’s creative process rests on three pillars: close relationships with clients; our talented and innovative staff; and the skills and experience of our founding partners. For more information, visit www.ysa.design.