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Taster Cruise Diary – Day 2

Erasmus Bridge and Crown Princess_Rotterdam Harbour

Day 2 – our day in Rotterdam

By breakfast time the Crown Princess was approaching Rotterdam and we were passing a scattering of industrial buildings and modern white windmills. From the cruise terminal in the heart of Rotterdam it was an easy walk to all the things we wanted to see. Although a free shuttle bus was available to take guests to the train station and commercial area, we decided to walk across the Erasmus bridge, known as The Swan due to the shape of its pylons.

Spido Harbour Tour

From the other side of the bridge we took the Spido Harbour Tour, which lasted 75 minutes, on a large boat with indoor and outdoor seating areas from which to view all the interesting buildings alongside the Maas River. Rotterdam was largely destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, but the city has more than made up for this with interesting shaped modern buildings by notable architects, which were pointed out in the commentary. The harbour tour also took us past the dock areas with colourful containers stacked up like lego and ships being loaded with cranes, before bringing us back past the old cruise liner SS Rotterdam and the Crown Princess moored on Wilhelmina Pier.

Our seafood lunch at Schmidt’s

We asked a local for a recommendation for somewhere to eat roll-mops, to which my husband Guy is addicted, and he directed us to Schmidt Zeevis, a prizewinning fishmonger’s and deli just 5 minute’s walk away. We found counters full of fresh seafood and ready-to-eat fish dishes to take out. Sharp suited business-men and locals were standing at the tables and counters, eating everything from raw fish Japanese style to lightly battered fish selections with  a selection of dips. I ordered the lunchtime special, while Guy had a selection of herring and roll-mops which cost us around €10 per person for a really fresh and authentic lunch.

The Haven Museum and Maritime Museum

Strolling down the Leuvehaven area of the harbor full of old boats, we were invited on board one that was part of the Haven (Harbour) Museum. This Dutch barge named Gertrude, was built in 1908 and housed a whole family who lived on board. The volunteer guide took us into the boat to see the old-fashioned living room, bedroom and kitchen, with the childrens’ bunks down below. Walking further on we looked around the Maritime Museum and especially enjoyed the Mainport Live spectacle with a model of the port and noisy video presentation to give you the feel of the life and vibrancy of Rotterdam. Upstairs there was the Sea Palaces Exhibition with examples of cruise ships since the 1920s, showing how the cabins and public spaces have developed from a luxury experience that only the very wealthy could afford to the holiday playgrounds of today.

The Cube Houses

We had picked up a leaflet for the Architecture Walking Tour, which we followed along the canal to find the Art Nouveau Witte Huis or White House, an attractive eleven story building which was considered the sky scraper of its day. A little further were the famous Cube Houses designed by Piet Blom, looking  like a forest of cubes, each on its own trunk, containing the staircase. One of the houses is open as a museum and on looking around, I decided that the houses are better to look at than to live in, with very small rooms and slanting ceilings tucked into the cube shape.

The Water Taxi to Hotel New York

By the afternoon, we were a little foot weary and so we took one of the yellow and black water-taxis from Leufthaven, speeding across the harbor to get off just by Hotel New York at the end of Wilhelmina Pier. In its heyday, this was the luxury hotel where cruise passengers would stay before joining their cruise to New York, but now it has a lively brasserie and outdoor terrace where you can have a meal or a coffee. We sat inside by the reading table under an enormous crystal chandelier and had a coffee and slice of apple cake before walking back to the Crown Princess on the other side of the pier.

Tomorrow is a sea day, as we travel from Rotterdam to Guernsey, when we will have a better chance to explore the ship and everything it has to offer.

HC_Taster Cruise_Rotterdam

Iconic cube houses -  Seafood lunch at Schmidt Zeevis  – Hotel New York in Rotterdam
Heather Cowper

Our guest author, Heather Cowper writes at Heatheronhertravels.com about inspirational travel destinations, bringing you stories, photos, videos and podcasts from Europe and around the world. You can also connect with Heather on her Twitter page @heathercowper and on her Facebook page

Heather’s 4 night European Sampler Cruise was hosted by Princess Cruises who offer cruises to European and Worldwide cruises to allow you to explore fascinating destinations and escape completely on board their elegant and spacious ships.

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