SS Rotterdam returns to home port

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Hundreds of people were at the port to welcome the largest passenger ship ever built in the Netherlands.

5 August 2008

The legendary steamer SS Rotterdam has returned to the port it was named after. It dropped anchor at the Maas docks, near the Katendrecht district.

The ship was once one of a fleet of steamers owned by the Holland-America Line, which operated a direct service between Rotterdam and New York from 1873 to 1978, and transported tens of thousands of emigrants to the United States.

The 50-year-old former flagship of the Holland-America line was the largest passenger ship ever built in the Netherlands and hundreds of people turned up to welcome the "grand old lady" home.

Today’s papers published photographs of the SS Rotterdam being towed back to her home port.

De Volkskrant interviews a 73-year-old former SS Rotterdam steward: "I'm entering the final stages of my life, but that's my youth sailing in right now".

The ship spent the last two years being restored in Germany and Poland; a restoration that Trouw says was much needed. After it was decommissioned, it was bought by a Rotterdam-based housing corporation which decided to turn it into a floating hotel, restaurant, theatre and convention centre.

The paper writes that the restoration, which was originally estimated to cost EUR 25 million, turned out to be rather more expensive: the final bill was EUR 175 million.

The money for the renovation came from government subsidies intended to improve the country's worst problem districts.

In reaction to questions in parliament, Housing Minister Ellen Vogelaar said that the housing association had not broken any rules. She added that the ship would provide people with temporary accommodation. Also young people could live on the ship while learning a trade.

[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]

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