Every Grand World Voyage lives up to its name, but this year’s journey was made especially memorable by the presence of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who boarded ms Amsterdam at Durban, South Africa, March 28 and disembarked at Cape Town April 1.
During his time aboard, Tutu was a centerpiece of the annual Mariner Appreciation Days hosted by Holland America Group CEO Stein Kruse. Kruse was joined by two other special guests: Carnival Corporation & plc President and CEO Arnold Donald, and Robert V. Taylor, author and President of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation.
To honor his visit, Holland America Line made a $100,000 donation to the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. The DTPF celebrates young people 17-22 who are changing the world as the next generation of peace makers in the U.S. The goal of the foundation is to teach one million young people the power of peace within, peace between, and peace among all people. Their mission is guided by the concept of Ubuntu; that we are all connected to each other and that what affects one of us affects us all.
Tutu spoke and took audience members’ questions at two 90-minute “conversations” with guests. He detailed his role as the first black African to serve as archbishop of Cape Town and discussed his work forging racial equality throughout the world, beginning with his opposition to apartheid in South Africa.
Charismatic would be an understatement, he has an aura about him … This afternoon, in a packed Queens Lounge he spoke on stage for 2 hours. I was enthralled and very moved by his words, he is undoubtedly a ‘man amongst men.’ — Captain Mercer
He also presided over a Sunday morning Eucharist service, at which the Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir provided the music.
The choir also performed at two shows for guests in the Queen’s Lounge.
In the evening, [we had] a presentation by the Soweto Gospel choir. O Lord, it was stupendous, awe-inspiring, inspirational and every wonderful adjective I can think of. — Captain Mercer
Tutu was accompanied by his wife Leah, his daughter and son-in-law and other family members. And while Tutu is known as one of the world’s most charismatic and charming individuals, the group was equally charmed by the gracious service they received aboard Amsterdam. “They were so very appreciative of all that was done for them,” said Gerald Bernhoft, director Mariner Society. “As I walked them from their stateroom to their waiting cars, they could not stop saying how overwhelmed with gratitude they were by the way they were treated onboard. The archbishop kept saying, ‘Everything and everybody were so wonderful, so perfect! Saying thank you is simply not enough!’”
Holland America Line’s guests were just as overwhelmed by the experience. “I spoke with many of them over the course of the four days and the comments were incredible,” Bernhoft said. “Over and over again, guests stated that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Many even said it was life changing.”
To read more about the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation donation, check out Holland America Line’s press release HERE.