In a gala ceremony rich with Dutch heritage, Holland America Line named ms Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice, Italy, on July 4. Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands officially named the premium line’s 15th ship in front of invited dignitaries, cruise guests and media during the special celebration before the ship embarked on its maiden cruise
When a ship is named, cruise lines often dream up pop-culture events hyped in technology with a movie star or other entertainer naming the ship. In contrast, the christening of Holland America’s 2,106-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice, on Sunday, July 4, was a brilliantly classy event steeped in tradition, heritage and royalty.
During the naming ceremony in the ship’s theater, Her Royal Highness Princess Maxima of The Netherlands, the latest in a long line of Dutch royal family members to serve as godmothers for Holland America’s ships, pulled a lever. In tandem, outside a champagne bottle was sent flying and successfully smashed against the ship’s bow – thus “officially” christening the Signature-class vessel.
Streamers and cheers erupted within the theater. Dressed neatly in light grey and sporting a large summer hat, Princess Maxima beamed as she did the honors of naming the ship. In total, 11 Holland America ships have been christened by members of the Dutch royal family.
During the naming ceremony, Stein Kruse, Holland America’s president and CEO, also shared Holland America’s storied history and the evolution of the Nieuw Amsterdam as a ship name. The new 86,000-grt, Signature-class ship is the fourth vessel to be so named.
The first was launched in 1906, and sailed with both a full set of sails and steam engines. Joining the fleet in 1938, Nieuw Amsterdam II was launched by Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands; during World War II, that vessel completed 44 wartime voyages ferrying nearly 400,000 American soldiers to Europe, and post-war, hosted such celebrities as Katherine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth and Albert Schweitzer. The third Nieuw Amsterdam launched in 1983 and left the fleet just a few years ago.
In a colorful event prior to the christening, the captains of every ship in the Holland America each boarded a small vessel bearing flags of their ships. The vessels sailed one by one in a water parade to greet the Nieuw Amsterdam at her Venice pier. It was the first time in the line’s history, apparently, for such a gathering of the line’s ship captains.
Then again at the outset of the naming ceremony, the captains in their full dress uniforms – hidden from the audience’s sight on a platform lowered below stage-level – were then elevated as a group to stage level. It was a surprise to the audience, which erupted in cheering. Flags from each ship in the fleet graced second level balconies adjacent to the stage.
Also speaking at the naming ceremony was Captain Edward van Zaane, the master of the Nieuw Amsterdam, who underscored his connection with the Dutch people, noting that he makes his home in the The Hague. He called the ship a beautiful work of art.
Corrado Antonini, chairman of Fincantieri, praised the long-time relationship between Holland America and his company; Financtieri has built all but one of the line’s 15 ships. He also told the audience “the cruise market is picking up very rapidly – but not so [for cargo ship building]." He said he was “very confident” with the increase in cruising demand, and that his firm was prepared to meet the upcoming demand for new ships.
Two clergymen provided the invocation for the christening ceremony, one calling the ship “a masterpiece of human genius.” And in a touching moment, Stein Kruse pointed to the stage’s screen to show a black-and-white photo of a handsome young porter in his 20s, who served onboard Nieuw Amsterdam II in its heyday in the 1940s. Kruse pointed out the now elderly gentleman in the audience – noting he was sailing with his wife and family on the inaugural voyage of the newest Nieuw Amsterdam.
As part of the day’s festivities, HRH Princess Maxima also toured the vessel and dined with inaugural guests in a gala dedication luncheon in the Manhattan Dining Room.
The exterior of the MS Nieuw Amsterdam
Basics about Nieuw Amsterdam
Built at a Fincantieri shipyard near Venice, the Nieuw Amsterdam is 936 feet long, with a beam of nearly 106 feet. Registered in the Netherlands, it carries 2,106 passengers and a crew of 933.
The latest Nieuw Amsterdam honors the historic glamour of New York City, known as Nieuw Amsterdam by its Dutch founders. Art, craftwork and historical artifacts documenting New York’s native American history and Dutch influences, along with historic photos reflecting the line’s long-term relationship with New York are displayed in public areas. In the Loft, teens can even climb into a real-life New York City Yellow Cab.
The new ship features many popular Holland America venues that frequent guests expect such as the Crow’s Nest observation lounge, Pinnacle Grill alternative dining venue, and Explorations Café, a combination coffee shop, Internet café and library. Nieuw Amsterdam also boasts the largest gymnasium of any Holland America ship as well as a full-bodied Greenhouse Spa and Salon. The ship also has such Signature Class features as Silk Den lounge and Tamarind, the latter a Pan-Asian restaurant.
New on Nieuw Amsterdam, a Master’s Chef’s Table has been added to Pinnacle Grill; it will offer an exclusive dining experience of seven courses with wine pairings for up to 18 guests. A special culinary expert will be the evening’s host. Cost for a Master Chef’s Table evening is $89 per person.
Nieuw Amsterdam’s staterooms reflect a similar motif to those on sister ship Eurodam, launched in 2008. Staterooms feature earthy tones and dark woods. Travel Agent magazine will run a full ship review in an upcoming issue.
Outfitted with the latest environmental technology, the new ship has an advanced wastewater treatment system built by the Hamworthy Group of the United Kingdom. It exceeds the highest standards in the maritime industry.
After several 12-day Mediterranean cruises, the new ship will embark on a fall transatlantic crossing. From November through March, Nieuw Amsterdam will operate seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades in Florida.
For more information, visit www.hollandamerica.com.