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Rotterdam’s Naming Ceremony Was a Royal Affair

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.

flower presentation

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.

Arnel Tailor

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.

bottle break

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.

lido pool with crowd

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!

  • James Morris

    Just got off of Rotterdam on May 22nd after s 35 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale. Loved the bands on Rolling Stone and B.B. King. Was at Rolling Stone every night.
    The only problem was after our covid test and my wife and several other people tested positive,no one knew the same answer to questions about what to do now. The people and especially my wife was treated badly, something I did not expect from HA. Staff treated them quite nasty,I would think HA would have a set way of handling this problem.

  • Louis

    Where was President Gus Antorcha?

  • Prof. Hans Brinkhoff

    Kapitein en staf, wens jullie een Behouden vaart met de 7de Rotterdam en nu ook het Vlaggeschip van DE LIJN.
    De traditie blijft voortgaan en met veel succes sinds 1873.
    Met vriendelijke groet ook namens het bestuur Association DE LIJN.

  • JH van DIJK

    We vonden het een grandioos dag alles was goed georganiseerd.enkel jammer dat s,avonds met het vertrekken.zo jammer geen vuurwerk. bij de ss rotterdam geen getoeter met het voorbij varen heel jammer bij de doop van de Koningsdam was mooi vuurwerk.

  • Julie

    Unfortunately he was back in the U.S. recovering from COVID.

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