It’s official! While Rotterdam has been cruising since the fall, today in the city of Rotterdam we formally welcomed her as the flagship of our fleet in an affair fit for a royal! Following a tradition that started in the 1920s, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands christened the ship in a ceremony attended by local dignitaries and invited guests.
Upon arrival, Princess Margriet was welcomed at the gangway with a floral bouquet presented by seven-year-old Nora van Dijk, daughter of Nathalie van Dijk, who has been with Holland America Line for 15 years in the Rotterdam office.
The ship was greeted in the harbor by a flotilla of boats, and the Princess, who is a Patroness of the Dutch merchant fleet, was on deck to receive the salute.
During the naming celebration, Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald, Holland America Group President Jan Swartz, Rotterdam Captain Werner Timmers, Lord Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb and Mariner Ambassadors David and Gisela Gere joined Princess Margriet on stage.
“My entire life led to this moment and I couldn’t be more proud to play my little part in bringing her here to you.” — Rotterdam’s Captain Timmers.
Emphasizing that Holland America Line is more than a company, it’s about family, ship tailor Arnel Sotto spoke about how his father was a tailor on Rotterdam V. In 1995 he convinced Arnel to head to sea aboard the ship, and 27 years later he is still on board. Arnel has since worked on ships with his brother and cousin, in addition to his father, who sadly passed away last year.
Vocal group Cantare featuring B.B. King’s Blues Club All Star Band lead vocalist Anitra McKinney performed an emotional rendition of “Home” from The Wiz, and the music paused while Princess Margriet gave her blessing to the ship and pulled the cord to launch the champagne that successfully broke against Rotterdam’s hull.
Guests on board were invited to watch the ceremony on the big screen at the two-deck Lido Pool area in an event hosted by Brand Ambassador Seth Wayne. Cheers could be heard and flags were waving as the excitement built throughout the event.
Following the ceremony, the festivities continued into the evening with a gala dinner and the opportunity for guests to pour champagne over the ship’s bell. The blessing of the ship’s bell is a Holland America Line tradition when welcoming a new ship to the fleet.
We hope to see you on board Rotterdam for a cruise to Northern Europe or the Caribbean in the future!