Many friends have been asking where ms Statendam and Oosterdam were during the months of January and February 2010.
Both ships, along with Carnival Elation, were on a special charter to accommodate the members of the Integrated Security Unit selected to provide security for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The ISU members were from the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and local police forces, in total over 14,000 ISU members were deployed. About 5,000 of these members were accommodated on board the three cruise ships along Ballantyne’s pier.
The operation on board the three ships had to change completely, whereas the ISU members were working 24/7 shifts. There were no on-board activities that our Holland America guests experience on a regular cruise. No towel animals, napkin folding, production shows or bingo. Instead, the Lido restaurant was open 24/7 where breakfast, lunch and dinner were combined with midnight snacks to suit the needs of all the ISU members returning or leaving for their shifts at all hours of the day (or night).
Many ISU members, about 25% of them female members, remarked that they had a wonderful time and really appreciated the warm welcome and warm food after they returned from their wet and cold security shifts. Obviously the security around the pier was very strict to protect the ISU members and the ships.
The Statendam arrived first on January 12, the Elation on January 28 and the Oosterdam on January 31, 2010. The Oosterdam departed first on March 2, 2010, the Elation and the Statendam on March 5. For the crew it was a spectacular experience to be part of this operation, to see some of the Olympic games and to participate in some of the victory parties throughout our stay in Vancouver.
During the final week in Vancouver, the ceremonial RCMP troops were set on the stage of the Oosterdam and the captains of the three ships were captured in this special moment. Very noteworthy is the special event that took place during the stay in Vancouver.
The tragic events in Haiti also took the lives of two members of the Canadian forces stationed in Haiti. A unique fundraiser was set up to raise funds for Haiti. The ISU staff started a raffle to raise the funds for Haiti and the winner would be able to stay in the penthouse. Two very happy ISU members won the raffle and moved for the remaining 2 weeks to the penthouse!
In total, $23,500 was raised from $20 raffle ticket donations from members, supplemented by a very generous donation from Holland America Line.
Captain Arjen C. van der Loo is ms Oosterdam’s master.