ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -- People here just couldn't stop staring at
Cyclists would rest on the nearby bridge and gaze at the
85,000-ton vessel in its berth. One woman snapped a picture from a
People stood on the pier at all hours of the day, looking
fixedly at the ship -- almost as if they were admiring a
"They come for every ship," a woman said of the people gathered
by the river to see the christening of the Oosterdam. "But for
Holland America, it's special."
Rotterdam residents, in particular, know Holland America Line
(HAL) because this city was the birthplace of HAL 130 years ago,
and the line was headquartered here until 1978.
It's now also the birthplace of the Oosterdam, which was
christened here last week by Princess Margriet of the Netherlands
during a celebration of HAL's 130th anniversary.
The Oosterdam is the second in HAL's Vista series, which, at
1,848 passengers per ship, was a "major change in thinking" from
the line's other, smaller vessels, interior designer Frans
But compared with its first Vista-class sister, the Zuiderdam,
the Oosterdam was "more HAL," according to U.S. travel agents
aboard the ship here.
"It's more elegant," said Nancy Wee, the owner of Wee Travel in
Broomfield, Colo. "I just think HAL is so well known for its
smaller ships. [But] I have a big group on here in November, and I
think they're going to like it."
Stein Kruse, HAL's senior vice president of operations, said the
addition of the Oosterdam also helps agents and clients put the
look and feel of the Zuiderdam into perspective.
"A series of ships takes on a feel that a single ship does not,"
he said. "On the second ship, people will say: 'That's what this
[new design] is about.' And by the time the fourth one comes out,
this will be the Holland America [that people know]."
Agents here also said these builds go a long way to attract a
younger demographic, which HAL has begun courting.
"For young people, [the Oosterdam] has a lot of things that will
appeal," Wee said. "The stand-alone disco, the coffee bar ... Club
HAL. They have to reach out to younger people."
HAL has two more 85,000-ton ships under contract with
Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. The Westerdam is slated for an April
debut; an unnamed Vista-class ship will be delivered in January
Earlier this year, HAL said it will begin conceptualizing a new
build beyond the Vista series that will focus on longer
The Oosterdam had many different visitors during its stay in
Rotterdam. A contingent of agents from North America made up only a
small portion of the guests, most of whom were Dutch and Belgian
Past passengers, seafarers, Holland America employees who worked
its ships during World War II and about 1,200 members of a club for
Holland America buffs visited the vessel.
That the Rotterdam, HAL's 1997 build, was docked bow to bow with
the Oosterdam was no accident. The Rotterdam (the ship) sailed from
New York for the Rotterdam (the city) events. The ship is on its
way back to New York this week.
To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].
First Call: Aboard the Oosterdam
espite being identical in
layout to its sister ship the Zuiderdam, the Oosterdam is a
distinctly different vessel.
In fact, the Oosterdam's decor seems to have more in common with
that of the Rotterdam, which was docked bow to bow in its namesake
city with Holland America Line (HAL)'s newest ship.
The fun, flashy fabrics and "bordello red" colors that make the
Zuiderdam eye-popping are absent on the Oosterdam. Instead, in a
return to HAL's more traditional roots, blue, gold and
burnished-orange patterns are featured prominently.
In other words: "It's more toned down," said Pat Eilermann, an
agent with St. Louis-based Altair International Travel.
The Oosterdam strikes a good balance between the old-school
"HAL-mark" rooms, like the Explorer's Lounge and the Crow's Nest,
and the new-school disco and color schemes.
Funky touches are evident in some of the rooms, such as the
glitter banquettes in the Northern Lights disco.
A crystal globe hanging in the main atrium suggests the
Oosterdam will be a well-traveled ship, moving from its current
position in northern Europe to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and
Alaska within the next year. -- R.T.