Holland America is celebrating its 150th anniversary in style. Rotterdam, the cruise line’s flagship, arrived in Rotterdam on the exact date of the cruise line’s 150th birthday and kicked off the celebration which included royalty, local dignitaries, port officials and guests.
Holland America Line President Gus Antorcha was joined by Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and descendants of Holland America Line’s original founders for a celebration at Hotel New York. Hotel New York was the headquarters of Holland America from 1901 to 1977.
Antorcha said, “The celebration of 150 years is about more than our history, it’s about how we are building on the legacy of a great brand to make it relevant for the next 150 years. From those first early days, we built our reputation on the care we provided to every person who stepped on board. And through the decades, whether that person was an immigrant, a titan of industry, a soldier or a vacationer, each of them was treated as though they were a guest in our own home. It is still a hallmark of our brand.”
“The fabric of history is woven from the threads of millions of stories, and at the heart of each of those stories is a person. I am certain that there are many chapters still to be written. And I hope that decades from now, those who come after us will gather on this very spot at Hotel New York to share them.”
Inside a room that had collected luggage for immigrants in the early 1900s, the festivities included the presentation of a commemorative 150th anniversary bell that will be permanently displayed at Hotel New York. Princess Margriet, who is also the godmother of Rotterdam VII, poured champagne over the bell, a tradition typically reserved for the launch of a new ship.
Holland America Line also worked with the postal office of the Netherlands to have a 150th anniversary gold foil stamp designed by Frank Janse to commemorate the occasion. The stamp showcases Rotterdam VII, the current Rotterdam in the fleet, and Rotterdam I, the cruise line’s first ship. The stamp can be purchased throughout the Netherlands.
Members of the founding family presented an original company share that will be part of a special collection in the Rotterdam City Archives. Those in attendance at the ceremony included the cruise line’s team members and more than 60 of Holland America’s top guests who have sailed at least 1,400 days on a Holland America ship.
Guests enjoyed a dinner onboard Rotterdam VII and then attended a party by the Lido Pool where Antorcha offered this toast to Holland America Line’s Anniversary:
“To the builders, architects, visionaries and explorers who have brought us to today. To our generations of crew who have seen our guests from shore to shore. And most importantly, to all of the passengers and guests who have trusted us along the way. Cheers to 150 years and many more to come.”