‘We Are Family’ – that was the message from the naming of Holland America Line’s newest ship Rotterdam in its namesake city in Holland on 30 May 2022. HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands triggered the bottle smash on Rotterdam’s bow to mark the official arrival of the seventh Holland America Line ship to bear that name.
It was the climax of a ceremony that brought tears to the eyes, with moving speeches not only from the company’s senior players, but also from one of Holland America’s Line’s long-serving crew members: Arnel Sotto, a Filipino tailor who has worked aboard Holland America Line ships for 27 years. His father also worked on board as a tailor for most of his life, beginning on Rotterdam V, and the two sometimes served on the same ship. Sadly, his father passed away last year. ‘To love this job, to be generous in life, to be serious in work and to feel part of the Holland America Line family’ were Arnel’s watchwords. ‘Rotterdam is more than a ship, it’s a family and it’s our home.’
These sentiments were echoed by loyal passengers David and Gisela Gere, who have enjoyed more than 200 cruises with Holland America Line. ‘We love the ships and the destinations, but we come back for the crew and the officers. They make us feel special and at home’ said Gisela, recalling how they were once recognised by a crew member from 20 years previously, when he was on his very first contract on board. ‘We will always have a home and a family here’ she said.
Also in Rotterdam until September 2022 is sister ship Volendam, chartered by Holland America Line to the city and housing families fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Among the 1,100 people on board are many children, who love being on the ship – but their parents have asked that ice cream is only served to them twice a week, not every day!
This summer, the 2,660 passenger Rotterdam will sail from Amsterdam to Scandinavia, Iceland and around the British Isles on 7 and 14 day cruises, offering the luxury surroundings, entertainment and dining for which the company is well-known.