From 1873 untill the 1970’s Rotterdam’s Wilhelminakade was the thriving hub of the Holland America Line (HAL). steamships whose names were familiar to all, such as the ‘rotterdam’, the ‘Nieuw Amsterdam’ and the ‘Statendam’, carried hundreds of thousands of passengers from Rotterdam to New York. at the time the company headquarters were situated at the site of the present hotel new york, and the current Cruise Terminal Rotterdam (architects Bakema en Van de Broek) was the passenger terminal for both arrivals and departures. shortly after 1970, Rotterdam was no longer a port for the passenger trade. However, nowadays the spacious building on the banks of the river Maas, defined by the distinctive, six-arched roof and 120-m long glass facade is proud to receive cruise ships again.
Rotterdam and the sea: four centuries of passenger travel
It began four centuries ago with the departure of the Pilgrim Fathers from Delfshaven (nearby Rotterdam), who began the first part of their journey to North America with the small ship Speedwell. Thereafter, the era of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (United East India Company), the first steamship services and – halfway through the 19th century – the passenger trade to the Dutch East Indies began, and somewhat later to the United States. During this time passenger travel by steamship between Rotterdam and England was on the rise.