Gift of Travel: How Dad Inspired Daughter’s Career Journey

View of former Holland America Line captain with his daughter.

Some of Marion’s earliest memories as a child include her dad, the sea and Holland America Line. That’s because her father, Captain Willem Koopman, would bring Marion, her sister and their mom on board for the holidays. Not many people can say they took their first cruise to Asia at the age of six with their dad at the helm. He actually held numerous roles throughout his career: second officer, itinerary planner, captain. Her favorite one though was having him as a dad, learning about all the exciting places he would go while embarking on their own adventures together.

View of Holland America Line assistant hotel general manager on board.

One of the greatest adventures has been her career journey. Today, she serves as one of our assistant hotel general managers, supporting a team of more than 340 crew members in guest services, housekeeping, communications, spa, shore excursions, photography and more. Though many people have inspired her along the way, it’s her dad that had the greatest impact.

“My father inspired me the most,” Marion said. “If he had not shown us the world, we would definitely not be in the jobs we’re in today.”

Exploring the world and caring for guests on Holland America Line cruises runs in the family. “It’s in my DNA. My entire family has a love of the sea, and both my sister and I could not wait to work on board.” Her sister, Titia, pursued a career with Holland America Line as well, and fun fact: They both met and married chief engineers who also shared a passion for sailing the seas. Soon, Marion will be celebrating her 30th anniversary with Holland America Line.

The most rewarding aspect of her career has been visiting other countries, exploring diverse cultures and making new connections. The stories she’s able to tell today remind her a lot of the ones her dad would share so many years ago. “From an early age, he would bring us back souvenirs from all the distant lands he sailed to, telling us stories of the places he had been. Our house was always talking about sailing on board with Holland America Line.” The excitement and passion her dad shared is something Marion carries with her today. Most of all, the way he inspired and lifted her up helped her become the incredible leader she is today.

“One of my favorite things to do is coach new team members, sharing with them what a job and life on board can bring you. I’ve had the privilege of seeing the world, and I want to share that excitement with them.”

The gift of travel and the many stories she’s curated are worth sharing. After all, Marion has cruised around the world seven times. The only destination left on her must-visit list is Antarctica, and she can’t wait to go there.

Another passion of Marion’s is investing in the incredibly talented women who have pursued careers in the cruise industry. Just as her father believed in her, she too empowers women across our fleet to aim high, share their talents, invest in career growth and follow their dreams wherever the sea may take them. It has brought her great joy seeing more women in leadership roles over the last 30 years – from ship to shore – and she knows her dad would be so proud of his girls today.

Though her father passed away two years after retiring in 2004, there’s no doubt Marion and her sister have continued his legacy. They also created their own thanks to the love, care and foundation he and their mom gave them. She holds dear every story he told, every smile he shared and every hug he gave. On this Father’s Day, she wanted to share a special message for all the dad’s out there.

“For all fathers: let your daughters know they can do anything they want to! My dad always told us girls to never let anything stop you – if you study, work hard and be kind to people, you will go far and have a fulfilled life.

“Thank you for inspiring me, daddy!”

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Marion. To all the dads out there, we wish you a Happy Father’s Day.


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One Comment

  1. Richard Schiferli June 16, 2024 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful inspirational story. I have had the pleasure of having sailed with Willem Koopman on the ms Prinsendam as a colleague. There I met his wife and two daughters when they sailed along in the Far East.

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