Mariner Ambassadors Leo and Kathy Falkensammer assist Captain Edward van Zaane in the blessing of the bell on ms Nieuw Amsterdam
Leo and Kathy Falkensammer, co-owners of Las Vegas-based Prestige Travel/American Express, served as the Mariner Ambassadors during inaugural festivities last week for Holland America Line's newest vessel, ms Nieuw Amsterdam.
The blessing of the ship's bell is a Holland America Line tradition when welcoming a new ship to the fleet. Mariner Ambassadors joined Captain Edward van Zaane in pouring champagne over the bell while reciting a classic maritime benediction: "We bless the bell of Nieuw Amsterdam as an extension of this vessel. We wish upon Nieuw Amsterdam fair winds and a following sea. We wish safety for her operation, wisdom for her officers, good health for her crew and comfort for her guests."
The Falkensammers were selected as Mariner Ambassadors for the Nieuw Amsterdam to honor the important role of travel sellers in the company's ongoing success. Also loyal Mariners, the Falkensammers have sailed more than 200 days on Holland America Line cruises.
"Holland America Line recognizes the vital partnership with travel sellers to our business and the Falkensammers' on-going commitment in kindling and growing our relationships with loyal repeat guests, or Mariners," said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales, and guest programs for Holland America Line. "We were honored to have them serve as Mariner Ambassadors for our newest addition to the fleet."
The Falkensammers founded Prestige Travel in 1980, and today the company is the largest agency in Nevada with more than 150 employees, 10 full-service stores and more than $100 million in annual sales. In 2000 the company partnered with American Express and since then has been an annual recipient of the American Express Excellence Award, which honors the achievements of member agencies that have reached superior sales results and year-over-year sales growth.
"Holland America is by far our favorite cruise line -- our first vacation cruise was aboard ms Westerdam II sailing to Alaska -- and my husband and I were honored to serve as Mariner Ambassadors for Nieuw Amsterdam," said Kathy Falkensammer. "Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship and we'll always remember participating in her dedication ceremony."
Holland America Line held the official dedication for Nieuw Amsterdam July 4 in Venice, Italy, followed by the ship's maiden voyage. Her Royal Highness Princess Maxima of the Netherlands served as the ship's godmother. The blessing of the bell ceremony was held during the three-day maiden voyage.
After several 12-day Mediterranean sailings, the 2,106-passenger vessel is scheduled to embark on a fall trans-Atlantic crossing to the Caribbean where it will sail seven-day eastern and western itineraries from November 2010 through March 2011.