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Orlando Ashford Joins the Grand World Voyage for Annual ‘President’s Event’

Gerald Bernhoft, Holland America Line’s director Mariner Society, recently traveled to Asia to join Amsterdam’s Grand World Voyage for the annual President’s Event. He sent in this recap of the event and the surrounding days, including the surprise snow in South Korea!


The elegant ms Amsterdam was the scene for Holland America Line’s annual “President’s Event” during her 2017 Grand World Voyage. President Orlando Ashford, his wife Samantha, sons Orlando Jr. and Jackson along with Pamela Baade, manager of Holland America Line’s manager of corporate giving and I, boarded the vessel in chilly 20-degree temperatures on February 18 in Incheon, South Korea.

From left: Cruise Director NAME, Captain Mercer, Baade, the Ashfords, me and Mensink.

From left: Cruise Director Gene Young, Captain Mercer, Pamela Baade, the Ashfords, me and Hotel Director Henk Mensink.

Captain Jonathan Mercer, Hotel Director Henk Mensink Cruise Director Gene Young were at the gangway to meet the party. Everyone hit the pavement running the following morning for the first of two top Mariner’s luncheons beautifully created in the Crow’s Nest for guest with 850+ days on Holland America Line. That evening the first of two “President’s Club” Mariner Dinners in the elegant King’s Room took place. The table was stunningly set with Limoges china, a floral arrangement that ran one end to the other and an engraved silver box commissioned specifically for the dinners as a table gift for the attending guests.




Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald joined the cruise for a few days with his wife, Hazel.

Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald joined the cruise for a few days with his wife, Hazel.

Upon sailing into Xingang, which is the port of call for Beijing, the ship was greeted with a snow storm! It is highly unusual but was fun for both guests and crew.

Additional events during the week included a special cocktail party in the Rembrandt Lounge followed by a beautiful dinner in the Pinnacle Grill for our Neptune Suite guests. A magical “Red Lantern Dinner” in the La Fontaine Dining Room and Gala cocktail party for both first and main seating guests took place February 24.

To a standing room-only Queen’s Lounge, Orlando presented all that is new with Holland America Line — from the partnership with O, The Oprah Magazine to the America’s Test Kitchen partnership to two new Pinnacle Class vessels in our company’s future. I then showcased our company’s rich 144-year history along with new and exciting longer cruise itineraries. The program wrapped up with a Q&A portion for guests to ask questions to the officers and executive team, which included Orlando, Captain Mercer, Hotel Director Henk, Chief Engineer Piet Westerhuis and myself.



The week was beautifully capped off with an amazing evening on Lido Deck! Henk and his extraordinary team transformed the mid-ship Lido pool area into a “Shanghai Sunset Fusion” party. Staff donned traditional Chinese costumes, there were lavish Asian food stations throughout the Lido area, we created special cocktails and offered wine paired with the food. A band elevated the excitement of the evening, as did gorgeous decorations — from upside down hanging umbrella’s to Chinese junk sails in the pool flooded in red lights. Two Chinese dragons also swirled around the guests during the party.







Once again, the Amsterdam team created a magical week for our guests onboard the Grand World Voyage! Hat’s off to Captain Mercer, Hotel Director Henk, Guest Relations Manager Christel Mensink, Cruise Director Gene, Culinary Operations Manager Florin Dragomir, Dining Room Manager Phillip Stolte, Pinnacle Grill Manager Tina Astuti, Cellar Master Jacques Louw, Executive Chef Petr Nozicka, Pinnacle Grill Chef Peter Joseph and Executive Housekeeper Shiv Charan! Day in and day out this team and their entire staff create magic for our guests as they sail around the world!

  • Patricia B

    Thanks to Mr Bernhoft for this outstanding post. Much time and effort went into it and this is much appreciated.

    It is very interesting to see and read about all the events put on for World Cruisers. What a fabulous time for everyone!

    It is wonderful to see and read about how from the top, down HAL takes superb care of its Mariners.

  • Mike

    I hope to take one of Holland’s World Cruises one day. They sound awesome.

  • Mel Ganus

    What a delightful write up! So happy to learn more about the world of Holland America. Look forward to seeing you again soon!

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