On board of Rotterdam VII, one of the largest floating art galleries in the world

We often see them sailing by over the IJ, the storeys high cruise ships of the Holland America Line. With Amsterdam in the background they make quite an impressive sight. What might be just as impressive, is the enormous art collection on board of some of these ships.

Federico Picci

The art collection on board of the newest cruise ship of the Holland America Line, the Rotterdam VII, for example, contains a collection of 2,645 artworks in total with an estimated value of over 4,1 million USD.

This week we had the pleasure to board the ship at the Passenger Terminal in Amsterdam for a sneak peek of this art collection, before the ship would set off again to receive its first guests at the other side of the ocean.

The extensive art collection of the Rotterdam is carefully curated by Oslo-based YSA Design and London-based ArtLink. Both companies worked closely together with Tihany, the interior designer of the ship, and the 90 artists of 37 nationalities, whose artworks are on display.

Medhi Ghadyanloo

In fact, many artworks are custom-made to perfectly fit into their surroundings, not only in terms of theme and design, but also in terms of stability and durability. After all, not every material and object can survive the harsh sea conditions, such as the salty ocean air and the turbulent sea.

The artworks on board of the Rotterdam come in many different sizes, materials and styles. The collection is so versatile, that there is something to like for everyone onboard.

Some notable works are among others the largest and smallest pieces onboard.

The largest one is Harps. The 7.5-ton stainless steel sculpture has a height of 9 meters and is positioned in the middle of one of the atriums spanning three decks in total. The impressive object was designed by Artlink, based upon a concept of Tihany Design. We can just imagine how important it is, to properly test the stability of this object before setting out on sea.


The smallest artwork is hardly larger than your mobile phone and is made out of old maps. The small houses on top show the incredible talent of the artist Betty Pepper to work in the finest possible details.

Betty Pepper

Interestingly, nine out of ten artworks onboard of the Rotterdam are of emerging artists coming from all over the world. A number that increased considerably since the Holland America Line started with its art onboard.

There are however also works of artists who already built quite a reputation, such as San Miguel Okuda, one of our favorite street artists. As always, his colourful art is standing out. We immediately recognized it.

Okuda San Miguel

The art collection is mostly based upon the three themes architecture, music and zoology. Occasionally you will also find an object that relates more to the Dutch heritage of the Holland America Line, be it the city where Holland America Line was originally founded, or the Dutch mills and canal houses.

Canal Houses

Obviously, we only saw part of the collection in the short time we had onboard. You will likely need to join a cruise of a decent length to see and absorb the complete collection. In fact, the collection is exclusively on view for guests of the Rotterdam.

David Moreno

Art Cruise Tips

Tip 1: The Rotterdam is not the only cruise ship of the Holland America Line with an art collection onboard. Art has always played an important role on the HAL ships. Noteworthy are the two sisters of the Rotterdam, which both have an extensive art collection on board as well. Its sister ship the MS Koningsdam contains 1,920 art pieces. The other sister the Statendam contains a similar number of art pieces. Thus, if you plan for an art cruise, make sure to book your cruise on one of these three ships.

Interior design by Tihany

Tip 2: For those joining a cruise on the Rotterdam in a couple of months or more, the curators are currently working on an App, with which you can organize your own guided tour of all art onboard by simply scanning the QR code next to an artwork. Make sure to check if it is already available when on board!

We were invited on board of Rotterdam VII by Holland America Lines and Het PR Bureau. Thanks again for having us!

Rotterdam VII, the newest ship of Holland America Line