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MS Borealis

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Borealis in A Coruña, 2022
  • Rotterdam (1997–2020)
  • Borealis (2020–present)
Port of registryUntil 2020: Rotterdam,  Netherlands. Since 2020:  Bahamas
BuilderFincantieri, Trieste, Italy
Yard number5980
Launched21 December 1996
Maiden voyage11 November 1997
In service11 November 1997
StatusIn service
General characteristics
Class and typeRotterdam-class cruise ship
Tonnage61,849 GT
Length780 ft (237.7 m)
Beam105.8 ft (32.2 m)
Speed25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Capacity1,404 passengers

Borealis is a cruise ship of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, sailing since July 2021. She was built as MS Rotterdam and was the co-flagship for Holland America Line, for which she sailed for 22 years.

Construction and career

As Rotterdam

Rotterdam prior to 2012 refit
Rotterdam at Rotterdam in August 2018 after refit

Commissioned in 1997 by the Holland America Line, the vessel was christened as Rotterdam by Princess Margriet of the Netherlands on 9 December 1997, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and made its first call at the Port of Rotterdam on 10 June 1998.[1] Rotterdam was the sixth Holland America vessel to bear the name. She was named for SS Rotterdam of 1959, and also named after the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands.The ship paid homage to the 1959 Rotterdam's by having trademark twin funnels, along with lounges and dining rooms sharing the same name as the 1959 ship.[2] MS Rotterdam and her sister ship MS Amsterdam were co-flagships of Holland America Line (HAL).

Rotterdam carried an art collection on board worth over US$2 million and featured fine art and antiques.[2]

In September 2004, the vessel lost power when all four engines failed during Hurricane Karl while doing a transatlantic crossing. Swells reached 10 to 15 metres (33 to 49 ft). Many passengers suffered injuries during this period, the most severe being fractured bones. Rotterdam regained power and continued its journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia, arriving on 28 September.[3]

During the summer of 2011, Rotterdam conducted Holland America Line's first standalone transatlantic crossing since 1971, making a single trip both eastbound and westbound.[4]


In 2012, Rotterdam received a major refit in Hamburg. The upper aft superstructure was rebuilt with the addition of extra cabins, and the removal of the aft swimming pool.[5]

2020 Coronavirus pandemic

Sold to Fred Olsen cruises

Due to the pandemic and shutdown of the cruise industry, the flagships Rotterdam and sister Amsterdam were sold to Fred Olsen Cruises in summer 2020.[6][7] The ship sailed from its namesake city one final time as the Rotterdam on 11 August 2020.[8] A new MS Rotterdam (VII) debuted in July 2021.

As Borealis

Borealis at Liverpool's cruise liner terminal

In the fall of 2020 the ship sailed to Scotland and was laid up with the rest of Fred Olsen fleet prior to being refitted for service. The name Borealis refers to a ship of the same name that was part of the Fred. Olsen line in 1948, before it became a cruise line. The transformation of Rotterdam to Borealis started in August 2020 at Damen Shipyards in Schiedam, near Rotterdam with completion in July 2021.[9] Shortly after making its maiden trip,[10] Borealis suffered a technical issue that caused the cancellation of a cruise as the ship remained in Portsmouth.[11]

Borealis' homeport is Liverpool.[12]


  1. ^ "Princess Margriet Helps Celebrate ms Rotterdam's 100th Call at Rotterdam". Holland America Line blog. 6 July 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Guns, Arnout (2015). ss Rotterdam : een scheepsbiografie. Nico Guns, Vrienden van Stoomschip Rotterdam (Hernieuwde, verbeterde en aangevulde editie ed.). [Zutphen]: WalburgPers. ISBN 978-94-6249-031-4. OCLC 923338666.
  3. ^ "'Cruise from hell' terrifies passengers". CBC News. 28 September 2004. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  4. ^ Sloan, Gene (18 November 2010). "After three decades, Holland America returns to classic trans-Atlantic crossings". USA Today. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Rotterdam Gets a Makeover in Time for the Holidays". Holland America Blog. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  6. ^ Mathisen, Monty (15 July 2020). "Fred. Olsen Buys the Amsterdam and Rotterdam from Holland America". www.cruiseindustrynews.com. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Holland America Line sells four cruise ships". Ship Technology. 16 July 2020. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  8. ^ Tuesday, August 11, 2020: Ms Rotterdam - Last Farewell, retrieved 27 April 2022
  9. ^ "14 July 2021; ms Rotterdam (VI) Revisited. – – Captain Albert's Blog –". Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  10. ^ Williams, Angus (5 July 2021). "'Momentous day' as Suffolk cruise line sets sail again after pandemic". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  11. ^ Staff, C. I. N. (16 July 2021). "Fred. Olsen's New Borealis Suffers Technical Problems". www.cruiseindustrynews.com. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  12. ^ "Cammell Laird completes Fred. Olsen's Borealis' multimillion-pound refurb". Seatrade Cruise News. 15 November 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2023.

External links