The fifth SS Rotterdam, also known as "The Grande Dame", is a former ocean liner and cruise ship, and has been a hotel ship in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, since 2010. She was launched by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands in a gala ceremony on 13 September 1958, and was completed the following summer. The Rotterdam was the last great Dutch "ship of state", employing the finest artisans from the Netherlands in her construction and fitting out process. Her career spanned forty-one years. She sailed from 1959 until her final retirement in September 2000.
Originally she was conceived as a running mate to the popular Nieuw Amsterdam launched in 1937, but work was put on hold at the outbreak of World War II in Europe. When economic conditions once again became favorable for completion of the new ship in early 1954, the beginning of the end of ocean liners as basic transport was visible on the horizon. The designers took this in mind and created a groundbreaking vessel, a two class, horizontally divided ship with movable partitions and a unique double staircase allowing for easy conversion to cruising. The christening and launch on September 13, 1958 by Queen Juliana was a huge crowd puller, with tens of thousands on both banks of the river. Rotterdam's machinery was shifted aft, to the now-traditional two thirds aft position, and in lieu of a funnel twin uptake pipes were fitted. To provide balance, a large deckhouse was built atop the superstructure in the midships position of a typical funnel. While very controversial at the time, her appearance became groundbreaking, and her unique design features can be found on cruise ships today.
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