Holland America Line celebrates 150th transatlantic anniversary crossing

Author: Kaye Holland

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Rotterdam VII – which launched last year – has set sail on its historic 15-day crossing marking 150 years to the day that Holland America Line’s first ship, also called Rotterdam, embarked on its maiden voyage.

Departing from Rotterdam, the 15-day voyage recreates Holland America Line's first voyage onboard Rotterdam – with stops in Le Havre, France, and Plymouth, England, before disembarking in New York, USA.

The current Rotterdam can accommodate up to 3,218 passengers with a crew of 1025. She has 13 passenger decks and 1340 cabins and suites.

Holland America Line
president Gus Antorchawa said: “Today was an historic for our brand as we departed 150 years to the day that Holland America Line’s very first ship began its journey to New York.

“In that time, we’ve carried immigrants and cruising vacationers, soldiers and refugees and earned a reputation for extraordinary care and welcoming all those guests as if into our own homes. As we sail into our next 150 years, that environment of service will be our hallmark as we create exceptional experiences for guests around the world.”

Rotterdam's captain, Werner Timmers. Credit: Holland America Line

World of Cruising joined the ship in Plymouth where Captain Werner Timmers said: “Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be able to do this 150-year cruise. When it said Plymouth on the schedule, I must say I had a totally different picture of Plymouth in my mind and this morning, when we came into the bay, I thought: ‘This is actually a really nice town.’

“I met the mayor and learned that Plymouth is the 15th largest city in the UK, so a lot of people who live here enjoy Plymouth – and I am glad to say you can add me to your fold because I am also enjoying Plymouth very much.

“The traditional thing we do when first coming to a port is to get to know the people of the place we visit because that is a connection that will last forever so Lord Mayor – this is a delft blue plaque to commemorate our visit for your office.

"We hope we come back to Plymouth as a regular port – I’ll have to ask Nico [vice president of international sales] to pencil it in on the itinerary. We know that ship fits in port so that’s a good start! Thank-you very much.”

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Lord Mayor of Plymouth, councillor Sue Dann, added: “Can I just say, thank you very much. It’s a real honour to represent the city of Plymouth today and to welcome the seventh Rotterdam ship into our beautiful, beautiful port.

"Thank-you [Captain Werner Timmers] for saying how beautiful our city is. We have an amazing maritime history in Plymouth and in this role, as Lord Mayor, have met lots of people who have sailed into harbour here. Everyone has said what a beautiful city and harbour it is so I am really glad you have enjoyed it.

“And speaking to passengers as they were disembarking today, they all feel that this is a very special visit too. They are all saying that they came on this particular cruise because it is such a historic occasion – 150 years since the shipping line started – and you’re coming back in April, aren’t you, so that’s just fantastic and we look forward to welcoming you back then. I’ll still be Lord Mayor!

"I hope you have a fantastic stay in Plymouth, which is growing in the cruise market, so it’s lovely that already you are talking about wanting to come back. Thank you very much and thank you for having us today.”

The original Rotterdam stopped in Plymouth in 1872 with 50 passengers.

Captain Werner Timmers presents Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Sue Dunn, with a delft plaque. Credit: Holland America Line

During the transatlantic crossing, guests will journey through Holland America Line’s history via culinary recreations of dishes from Holland America's archive. A series of lectures around Holland America’s last 150 years will also be delivered by maritime historian and author, Bill Miller.

Despite being purchased by Carnival Corp – therefore becoming an American-owned cruise line – in 1989, the line’s Dutch touch remains strong. All of Holland America Line’s ships are registered in the Netherlands while onboard you can expect to interact with Dutch officers and captains. Elsewhere every itinerary includes an orange party whereby passengers are asked to wear orange in a nod to the company’s Dutch heritage.

Holland America Line will offer its anniversary sailing again next April. Rotterdam will depart from New York on April 6, 2023, and end in its namesake, Rotterdam, on April 18 – the cruise line’s 150th birthday.

Rotterdam has arrived in Plymouth as part of a celebration voyage. Credit: Holland America Line
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About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]