Ship Collaboration to Commemorate Cruise Line’s Beginnings as Immigrant Carrier with On-Board Content and a Curated Exhibit at Ellis Island
Seattle, Wash., Oct. 19, 2022 —Holland America Line will partner with The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the eponymous landmarks, to celebrate the cruise line’s 150-year journey from immigrant carrier to consumer ocean liner fleet. The partnership, which kicks off October 26 as Holland America Line completes the recreation of the brand’s first-ever sailing from Rotterdam to New York City, features on-board video content across Holland America’s entire fleet produced by an Ellis Island researcher, as well as a curated exhibit launching in 2023 at Ellis Island detailing the brand’s historical prominence in bringing 1 in 10 immigrants from Europe to the United States.
“Our history is deeply woven within the fabric of America’s story,” said Gus Antorcha, president, Holland America Line. “It’s only fitting that as we celebrate this milestone anniversary, we partner with the entity responsible for restoring and preserving Ellis Island, the entrance to America that so many of our passengers experienced on their journey to a new start.”
The collaboration will launch with a joint talk between Stephen Lean, director of The American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island and Bill Miller, noted cruise historian, detailing the immigrant experience in the late 1800s; the presentation will be available on-demand across all ships within the fleet. Noting the cruise industry’s – and particularly Holland America Line’s – importance in the immigrant journey from Europe to US, the Foundation will curate an exhibit in its History Center available for visitors from February to April 2023.
“We are excited and proud to partner with Holland American Line to celebrate the line’s impact on Ellis Island history and the U.S. immigrant experience,” said Jesse Brackenbury, president and CEO of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. “Holland America Line’s relevance is reflected daily at our Family History Center where historic ship images adorn the walls and visitors learn about their ancestors’ journey to America. We look forward to a longstanding collaboration.”
The cruise line, which was founded in the Netherlands in 1873 as the Netherlands-American Steamship Company, was primarily a carrier of immigrants from Europe to the United States until well after the turn of the century, carrying nearly 2 million passengers to new lives in the New World. Holland America Line was the first to do away with “Steerage class” altogether, renaming it "Emigrants Class" where unlike the competition, guests were served three square meals. It is this level of care and attention to detail – a tradition and hallmark of the brand that has continued to this day – that was the impetus for its nickname at the time: “The Spotless Fleet.” Holland America Line provided everything from doctors and a pre-departure hotel complete with English lessons and classes on American civics to ensure passengers a safe journey to New York; and in fact, 99% of the immigrants carried on the fleet were cleared for entry through Ellis Island, a tremendous feat at the time.
Holland America Line began the recreation of its first voyage with a sendoff October 15 from the Netherlands. The ship will sail past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as it arrives in New York City around 7am October 26.