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Essay Contest Entry: Crossing on ss Zuiderkruis

The below was entered into Holland America Line’s trans-Atlantic essay contest. For details on how to enter, click HERE.

The following account is a transatlantic crossing on February 12, 1952 aboard the Holland America Line S.S. Zuiderkruis from Rotterdam to Halifax Canada.

ss Zuiderkruis

After boarding the Zuiderkruis my father, mother, brother and myself sailed past the Hoek of Holland and entered the open sea. The water was choppy, and it didn’t take long for the motion of the ship to take it’s toll among the passengers, as many of them were already queasy from all the excitement and emotion from the previous day of leaving family and friends.

The breeze gradually turned into a full scale Atlantic storm, with howling winds whipping the waves into a frenzy. The heaving ship did not appear to be making any progress, as the sea continued to boil, allowing us to travel at only half speed. At the height of the storm, tables and chairs were secured to prevent potential injury. I recall being in a portable bed that shifted from one end of the cabin to the other. As we progressed many passengers including my family members suffered from motion sickness. For some reason it didn’t appear to affect me, hence I was charged with procuring seasick remedies and any other supplies that my parents felt were required. As my younger sister was in a crib, which also moved back and forth, I secured her crib by tying it to a bed post.

It was apparent that the ship’s motion didn’t have the same affect on number of other younger passengers along with myself. I must say, I was enjoying the exciting adventure and exploration of such a large ship along with new found friends to enjoy the rest of the voyage. Eventually everyone also recovered sufficiently to enjoy the ship’s amenities and to eagerly look forward to our new homeland.

Finally, after several days at sea we arrived in Halifax at Pier # 21. Little did I know, that this voyage aboard a Holland America Line ship would be the first of many voyages in the years to come.

It was somewhat emotional that our first of many voyages with Holland America line started on the ms Zuiderdam the year she was commissioned.

Submitted by Jan.

  • annemarie dragt

    I also did my first sailing on a HAL ship as we immigrated from Holland to Canada.
    From the stories I hear, today’s cruises are much nicer. 🙂

  • Harry van der Vleuten

    I also sailed on Feb 12 1952 on the Zuiderkruis with my Parents and 9 siblings.
    Yes the sea was rough for a couple of days. I remember serving at Mass and our job was to hold on to the chalices, books etc.
    Also it was very cold when we got to Halifax on Feb 20. They had to break the ice up on deck so you could get around.
    Had a passenger list at one time but seem to have misplaced it.
    Does anybody out there know how to get another one?

  • Nelly Deboer

    I also sailed on the Zuiderkruis in February of 1952. It was hard getting a passenger list but somehow my brother got a hold of one but do to know the source. Did anyone read the book by Albert VanderMey called “To all our children “? In there it mentioned that the big storm hit on March 4th so wondered if there was another voyage in March as I know we arrived February 20, 1952?

  • A."Tony" Versteegen

    I sailed on the Zuidekruis on March 4,1952 I was 8 years old at the time, and had no idea of what was happening or where we were going. I do remember that once we rounded the lower part of England the fierce Atlantic storms started. one day the ship rocked so bad that all the furniture in the dining room kept shifting from side to side with the roll of the waves. One storm was so bad that it knocked a hole in the hull of the ship. It was reported to be 10X30, I don’t know if that was feet or meters. My first memory of sight was a fisherman fishing of the pier with a feather in his hat. It took us a full 10 days to make the crossing and then three days by train to Picture Butte, Ab.

  • Jean Simard

    I have vague memories of sailing from Canada to Europe in 1951/2. My mother was Belgian, returning for a visit with her parents. I appreciate this article as I have tried unsuccessfully to get more data on this ship over the years. I was 5 at the time, my sister 3. My first transatlantic trip was aboard the Aquitania in 1946-Europe to Canada.
    I don’t remember the name of the ship we sailed back to Canada on the 1951 trip. A few years laters my mother sailed alone on the Johan Van Oldenbarneveldt. Love those old ships.

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