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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and ssMaritime are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that the author is NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies, or is connected with any travel or cruise agencies, nor any other organisation! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960 and worked from being an office boy to CEO of a major cruise company, but has been long retired. Over the years, I have written on well over 680 classic liners on ssmaritime.com providing classic ship enthusiasts a great deal of information and pleasure! However, I will continue to write cruise reviews and ship information in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and thus provide the best possible information available for those intending a luxury, an expedition or a happy holiday cruise vacation somewhere in the Pacific, New Zealand or somewhere around world in the near future!

The delightful intimate S-Class ms Statendam, still a much loved quartet of HAL ships!

Page Two

Should you have reached this page via a search and you would like to learn more about the early days of now 140 year old (2013) Holland America Line (HAL) and its superb ships, I suggest that you first read Page One of this two page feature, and then use the link at the bottom of the page to reach this page!

Introduction:

The last ship we looked at on page one was the pride of the Netherlands, the magnificent SS Rotterdam, which was one of the most successful Dutch ships ever to be built, and she became one of the most loved cruise ships in every corner of the earth as she operated countless around the world voyages! Although there were some other ships to fill the space as well as new builds, such as the rather unusual looking identical ships for HAL the 33,930-ton ms Nieuw Amsterdam completed July 1983 and the 33,960-ton ms Noordam completed in April 1984. Their interiors were certainly far superior to their strange boxy like exteriors, for they were certainly intimate and luxurious, and there was no doubt that they were popular ships! After 2003/05 respectively these ships basically spent their lives working for other companies under charter and they still do until this day!

ms Nieuw Amsterdam IV of 1983

In the modern days of cruising Holland America Line certainly did start off with some eight superbly beautiful ships in two classes, one being of around 55,000-tons and the second of some 61,000-tons. But what was so wonderful was that they proved to be not only perfectly balanced looking ships externally, but also their interiors were simply sublime and facilities were greatly loved by all! The other thing was their perfect size, for they tended to be delightfully intimate, as they tended to many have less passengers for ships of their size! But more so, they had a great crew ratio as well!

1 - S-Class Ships:

We now head to latter in the 1980s as HAL commenced planning a brand new class of cruise ship, but now they desired to build something that was something more classic looking as far as their exteriors where concerned, rather than something as extreme as the previous pair built in 1983 and 84. In addition these ships would also be larger around 55,000-tons, being a good size and not too big like so many other ships of the day. Their maritime architects had done a superb job and had come up with the perfect new class of ship that became known as the S-Class, named after the first ship that was to be built, thus - S-Class stands for the motor ship “Statendam.” Their interior layout as far as their public rooms are concerned, these were very much based on the very successful ms Nieuw Amsterdam and Noordam from 1984/83, for this layout worked perfectly. It brought about the now popular public venues, such as such the superb Explorers Lounge, Crow's Nest and the superbly arranged Lido Restaurant, which has been hailed as one of the best Buffet’s on the seven seas!

ms Statendam was the fifth ship to carry this proud name for the “Netherland’s America Steamship Company” or in Dutch, “Nederlandsch Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij” (NASM), today’s “Holland America Line”, which is one of the most awarded Cruise Companies on the planet!

Let us look at these four ships:

The first of four, the fabulous and much loved ms Statendam

ms Statendam was ordered on March 1, 1989 for her to be built by the Fincantieri Shipyards in Italy together with two of her sisters, the ms Maasdam and ms Ryndam. However, their hull design was extensively changed due to changes to that were made to their upper superstructures that would have affected their buoyancy, thus a new more efficient design was used. The ms Statendam entered into service in 1993.

The Statendam was built at a cost of U$180 million, she was 55,451 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) and she has a length of 219m - 719ft, a width of 30.8m - 101ft and a draught of 7.5m - 25ft. She and accommodates just 1,258 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 557. Speed 22 knots. In 2015 the Statendam was transferred by Carnival to P&O Cruises Australia and after a refit renamed Pacific Eden. Thus she has left the Holland America fleet!

She was soon followed by her two sisters, the Maasdam in 1992 and ms Ryndam in 1994.

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The second of the series the elegant ms Maasdam – the Vista Class ms Oosterdam is seen behind her

ms Maasdam was built at the same cost as the Statendam but her tonnage was 55,575 GRT. Her length being 219m - 719ft, a width of 30.8m - 101ft and a draught of 7.5m - 25ft. She and accommodates just 1,258 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 557. Speed 22 knots.

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Number three of the S-Class, the delightful and popular ms Ryndam

ms Ryndam was the third to be completed at 55,819 and the largest of the three. Her length being 220m - 720ft, a width of 32m - 105ft and a draught of 7.71m – 25.3ft. She and accommodates just 1,258 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 602. Speed 22 knots. In 2015 the Ryndam was transferred by Carnival to P&O Cruises Australia and after a refit renamed Pacific Aria. Thus she, like her sister the Statendam, have left the Holland America fleet!

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ms Veendam The last of the series that came into service in 1996 and she is the somewhat updated version of the S-Class and a slightly larger version of the previous three ships. Although she looked identical to her three sisters, thus she like them enjoyed great success for HAL as all these ships had that special style and class.

In April 2009 the Veendam underwent a major refit in Freeport and during this refit, some decks of balcony cabins were added to the rear of the ship, in addition the aft pool area was completely restyled with a new pool fitted.

Due to the change in the ships aft section obviously weight had been added, thus it was decided to fit a duck-tail to the stern of the ship to provide additional stability. The refit also included the introduction of the ever popular HAL “Lanai cabins,” which are located directly on the Promenade deck. This means that these cabins have mirrored glass doors and they open onto Promenade deck, thus giving direct access, and the guests in these cabins can sit outside their room and have coffee, or just relax, if it was their private balcony!

The updated ms Veendam

ms Veendam was the last of the S-Class to be completed, she is 57,092 GRT and thus the largest of the four. Her length being 219m - 719ft, a width of 31m - 101ft and a draught of 7.5m - 25ft. She and accommodates just 1,350 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 580. Speed 22 knots.

 

R-Class Ships:

By the time the ms Ryndam commenced her maiden voyage and the Veendam was launched HAL was already far into the planning and having built their new series of four ships, that would be a somewhat larger and in some ways improved versions of the S-Class. Mind you the aforementioned remained greatly loved by so many to this very day as they have that something unique, a small passenger load for their size!

The sixth HAL ship to bear the name Rotterdam was officially ordered to be built at Fincantieri-Cantieri Navali Italiana on January 25, 1995 and she was completed two years later. Like her namesake the SS Rotterdam V it had been decided by the company to give her twin stovepipe uptakes as funnels, which proved to be most popular with those who loved the good old SS Rotterdam, although these new funnels where somewhat different in style. As soon as she commenced her maiden voyage passengers were amazed by the staggeringly magnificent décor that she presented, as she set a whole new standard in maritime interior décor, as did her sister that would soon follow! They would be built in the following order: after the ms Rotterdam, came the … ms Volendam, ms Amsterdam and last the ms Zaandam.

Although these four ships are basically the identical design, however the ms Rotterdam and Amsterdam have the twin side by side stovepipe uptake funnels. However, ms Volendam and Zaandam both have an attractive stylised single funnel.

ms Rotterdam was completed1997 at 59,885 GRT . Her length is 237m - 777.5ft, a width of 32.25m – 105.8ft and a draught of 7.8m – 25.5ft. She and accommodates just 1,258 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 602. Speed 22 knots.

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My beloved ms Volendam departs Brisbane Australia

Read the authors: ms Volendam Cruise’n’Ship Review

ms Volendam was completed in November 1999 at 61,214 GRT . Her length is 237m - 777.5ft, a width of 32.m – 105.8ft and a draught of 8.1m – 27ft. She and accommodates just 1,432 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 561. Speed 23 knots.

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The very elegant ms Amsterdam

Read the authors: ms Amsterdam Ship Review

ms Amsterdam was completed in October 2000 at 62,735 GRT . Her length is 237m - 777.5ft, a width of 32.m – 105.8ft and a draught of 8.1m – 27ft. She and accommodates just 1,380 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 600. Speed 23 knots.

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The last of the R-Class Ships the delightful ms Zaandam

ms Zaandam was completed in May 2000 at 61,396 GRT . Her length is 237m - 777.5ft, a width of 32.m – 105.8ft and a draught of 8.1m – 27ft. She and accommodates just 1,432 passengers in superb accommodations, with a crew of around 561. Speed 23 knots.

HAL’s Explorer Ship:

The glamorous ms Prinsendam seen in New York

ms Prinsendam has been especially designed to explore the remote corners of the world in elegance and style. There is no doubt whatsoever that the ms Prinsendam is Holland America’s most intimate cruise ship, considering that at 37,845 GRT she accommodates never any more than 835 passengers (the average being 815) and thus she gives her guests the feel of a classic yacht with the spaciousness of a cruise ship. In addition, you will discover that there is more that two crew member per guest on the Prinsendam!

This fine ship has had an established history in the super luxury market prior to HAL, as she was originally built and entered service in December 1988 as the Royal Viking Sun, however in 1999 she became the Seabourn Sun, and then in May 2002 this great ship was transferred to HAL to become the ms Prinsendam. She received a comprehensive refit improving her already luxurious facilities, and these have been ongoing and there has been another one just recently.

ms Prinsendam is one of the most loved ships in the HAL fleet and she has a huge number of loyal followers, especially considering her fascinating itineraries which are attractive and take passengers to rare and places that so many ships seem to have forgotten that they actually exist, for they never call there!

Carnival Vista Class:

This class of ship is without a doubt my personal pet hate, for they simply look like a big Apartment (Condo) block and when it comes to most companies, their interiors are so hideous with all that over the top glitz, sparkle, mirrors and twinkle lighting everywhere it is just like a giant casino gone horribly wrong. But when you consider that these ships are a Carnival design, well what can you really expect; the only thing is a whole bunch of drunks with them vomiting the railing or in the hallway as they head for their cabins early in the morning whilst waking normal people up. That is normal on a typical Carnival Cruise as I have been told over, and over again! Now Carnival created these hideous ships and you will find them everywhere, P&O, Cunard Line, and tragically they have even been forced on Holland America Line, and I am sure its directors would have winched at the horrendous idea, but Carnival would not have given them any choice.

But once HAL was stuck with the four Vista Class ships, they set out to ensure that the interiors would at least be very much Holland America and be as glamorous and luxurious as all their other ships, and they are! I made a statement many years ago that “I would not be seen dead on a Vista Ship.” Well, this year (2013) I undertook a cruise on the second of the class to be built, the ms Oosterdam and as her interiors where simply magnificent, but being one who is getting on and having walking difficulties these days, the ship is far to long! I seemed to be walking endlessly from one end to the other, this was due to the Exploration’s Lounge having been moved far forward to Lido Deck on Deck 9, and as I only dine in the main Dining Room, I have to go down to Deck 3 and then walk and believe me, it is a very long way, considering it is not a direct walk, but it is a long curved walkway. After dinner often there is yet another long walk to the Vista Show Lounge for the evening show. Then it is the frequent walk to and from your cabin, thus the ship did prove to be quite a burden to me, but more so for those who were not quite prepared for a ship of her size. As I say in my review, if you have a walking disability, or use an aid, be it a stick or frame, please do not go on any of these Vista Ships, or any large ship, stay with the smaller ships, for they are not only far superior, but also more intimate and I feel more enjoyable.

The second of the class built ms Oosterdam seen in Hobart on February 10, 2013

Photograph taken by my friend and associate © Hun-Eng Tan

The only reason I ended up sailing on the Oosterdam is this, I do believe you should not condemn a (class of) ship unless you been on it, well I can tell you this with all honesty, we had superb weather where the sea was almost like glass most of the time, yet she rolled to a degree all of the time, even when in protected still waters in port whilst at anchor, or as we were about to tie up. I was told by certain staff member that; “I can tell you Reuben, and I have now been on a few of them, and not just Holland America Vista ships, but all of them are poor in medium to heavy seas, for they are the worst pitchers and they roll like a mad drunkard. My worst experience was when I had a short stint on the Queen Victoria, wow that was the worst voyage ever! And of course she and the QE are both Vista ships.” Of course what is so amazing that these four ships are some 20,000-tons larger and 156ft longer that the R-Class, however the width of these ships is the same, whist their draught is shallower. Yet these ships have a higher with a very long flat sided superstructure, which is not great in winds, etc. In my mind all these new ships are simply top heavy and although I took one voyage on one, I will never ever again sail on then, and that includes the next class, being the Signature Class, for they are just an altered Vista Ship!

All four HAL ships were built by Fincantieri Marghera shipyard, Italy.

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ms Zuiderdam departs Holland

 ms Zuiderdam departed on her maiden voyage on December 14, 2002, she is 81,869 GRT. Her length is 285.3m – 936ft, a width of 32.25m – 105.8ft and a draught of 7.8m – 25.5ft. She and accommodates 1,916 passengers in good accommodations, with a crew of around 842. Speed 24 knots.

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ms Oosterdam berthed

ms Oosterdam commenced in service in 2003, she is 83,305 GRT. Her length is 285.3m - 936ft, a width of 32.25m – 105.8ft and a draught of 7.8m – 25.5ft. She and accommodates 1,916 passengers in good accommodations, with a crew of around 842. Speed 24 knots.

The authors ms Oosterdam 2013 Cruise’n’Ship Review is now online

 

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ms Westerdam the third of the series

ms Westerdam entered service in April 2004 at 82,348  GRT. Her length is 285.3m - 936ft, a width of 32.25m – 105.8ft and a draught of 7.8m – 25.5ft. She and accommodates 1,916 passengers in good accommodations, with a crew of around 842. Speed 24 knots.

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The last of the four big boxes, the ms Noordam

ms Noordam entered service in 2006 at 82,318 GRT. Her length is 285.3m - 936ft, a width of 32.25m – 105.8ft and a draught of 7.8m – 25.5ft. She and accommodates 1,916 passengers in good accommodations, with a crew of around 842. Speed 22 knots.

The Noordam received a good number of popular interior changes, for finally HAL got wise that having the very popular “Exploration’s Café” way up on top of the ship, far forward, rather that on one of her two promenade decks as on the S and R class, they finally moved it back where it belongs! If you are not aware what this wonderful café id all about, well let me tell you, it is an institution onboard all JHAL ships! First of all this is what you may call a  multi use venue as it has a superb coffee counter for the finest cup of coffee, for just U$1.10 or more for more fancy types. Then there are those delicious pastries on offer at a very small extra. However, the venue is the ships library as well as the Internet café and a spacious reading room. Thus this is always a luxurious large venue and a pleasure to be at!

 

Signature Class:

The Vista Class design was used as the main base of two derivative designs; the first was the original P&O ship was transferred to Cunard, which became the Queen Victoria, which had an additional deck added at the top of the ship, thus making it bigger tonnage wise. The send being the Holland America ships that also had a deck added, but these two ships also had their lower forward superstructure extended forward, thus giving them a better appearance to their predecessors Vista ships! However HAL decided to name them Signature Class to make them stand out, but also as they had a greater tonnage, due to the greater interior space, not necessarily due to their additional length. Other changes would be their interior layout that saw improvements, which were sadly lacking on the first three of the Vista ships. However, they are still far to big for a company that had such pride on personal service and an intimate atmosphere onboard their ships, but carnival is slowly destroying this as they are making an deep impression on HAL, as well as cutting services and charging for many more services onboard!

The massive ms Eurodam

ms Eurodam entered into service in 2008 at 86,273 GRT. Her length is 285.3m - 936ft, a width of 32.25m – 105.8ft and a draught of 7.8m – 25.5ft. She and accommodates 2,104 passengers in good accommodations, with a crew of around 980. Speed 24 knots.

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The ms Nieuw Amsterdam V is certainly no Nieuw Amsterdam III, but sadly at her size, there is a much bigger ship yet to come!

ms Nieuw Amsterdam is the 15th.ship to join the current HAL’s fleet and she is their largest ship at 86,700 GRT. She entered into service on July 4, 2010. Her length is 285.3m - 936ft, a width of 32.25m – 105.8ft and a draught of 7.8m – 25.5ft. She and accommodates 2,104 passengers in good accommodations, with a crew of around 980. Speed 24 knots.

The NEW Pinnacle Class:

Carnival and Holland America announced that they will build a new class of ship for the line, which will be known as the “Pinnacle Class.”  This 99,000 GRT ship will be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri at their Marghera Shipyard, near Venice. Fincantieri has now built fourteen Holland America Line ships. This new ship will accommodate some 2,660 guests in lower berths and she will be the first in the brand new “Pinnacle Cass” of Ships. She will be named the ms Koningsdam (Kingsdam) and her name is in honour of His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander who has become the first King of the Netherlands in over a century because his Mother “Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands” abdicated on April 30, 2013 being the day that is known as ,Koninginnedag” or “Queen’s Day,” in favour of her eldest son, then the Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

ms Koningsdam stern view

She is said to have many new exciting new culinary and entertainment venues and it will take HAL’s premium accommodations to an even higher level and will include many energy savings measures that will enable the ship to achieve significant fuel efficiencies. Sadly no further information or design details have come to hand to date, but the as yet unnamed ship is due in 2015. For me personally, this new ship is a tragedy for this is total Carnivalisation gone mad and soon the true Holland America Line of Old will be dead and buried and a new pretend version of HAL will continue to sail. It is just like the 100% American owned Cunard Line, which is not a British line at all, but American, the whole idea of sailing on these British ships is totally phoney, just like a Hollywood movie set, now that is Carnival! Holland America will be just like Cunard, mall pretend, all American, but pretending to be Dutch when its head office is in the United States and not Rotterdam where it used to be.

In Conclusion:

To this day I believe that in 1989 Holland America Line was a company that had one of the best and most secure futures ahead of them with a massive growth in the cruise industry at that time. But tragically Carnival Cruises obtained HAL in that year, which I believe was one of the greatest tragedies in shipping history! Some say that Cunard was worse, but that is not so, for that was always owned by American and Cunard was never a fully British owned company, whilst Holland America was 100% Dutch and that made a very big difference.

Thus this bring me to my rather sad conclusion of my two page history of Holland America Line from 1872 to 2015, for at least it was the great Holland America Line until at least 2000, but since then Carnival seems to have gotten it filthy teeth into the company, which I tend to call “Carnivalisation.” Just think of it: Remember those days when during the cruise they would offer the opportunity to visit the Bridge? Well you can still do so on Carnival’s HAL, but now there is a tiny charge, just US$150 per person to visit the bridge. Although early in the morning there is a free “Stretch class in the gym, but if you decide to hop on a bike, someone will come and see you and ask you to get off, for before getting on you will have to pay, US12 thank you! Sadly there are many more charges and you have to pay for things that where previously free on HAL, but now thanks to Carnival you pay!

Yes of course, I still love Holland America Line for I just cannot help it, but when it comes to the Carnival side I loathe their GREED and the way they treat their customers, for every person to Carnival, yes Micky Arison (CEO) I am well aware that they these guests on all your ships only look like the almighty dollar to you, and not as real human beings! Ted and Micky Arison may have built a mighty cruise industry, and have done much to see it flourish, but now due to pure greed Carnival is destroying the very industry he so loved, and Holland America, who will be 140 years old on April 18, 2013, is being slowly destroyed by Carnival!

But what makes Holland America so special, even to this day? I did state the following on page one in relation to the Carnival takeover of HAL:

“But thankfully, unlike every other shipping company that sold out to Carnival, the Dutch did stand firm on so many conditions, such as that all their ships must remain Dutch, thus registered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Senior officers must be Dutch, the restaurant, kitchen, food, Room Service and Cabin Staff must remain the ever reliable and friendly Indonesians. The Bar and drink waiters must be Filipino’s! Another condition was that HAL would be marketed only though their own offices and their brochures must remain independent from Carnival, thus HAL stood firm on keeping Carnival as far from them as possible, for they had a reputation to uphold, a 5 Star luxury shipping company with ships where its passengers knew they would receive the very best service, cuisine, accommodations, superb lounges, bars and other venues, and wide deck spaces. Then HAL knows how to entertain their passengers, even as they just walk around their superbly decorated ships as they are filled with a superb art collection, wherever you look, and fresh flowers. That is Holland America Line, a company that just stands apart from all the others!”

Thus there are still many factors that HAL have retained that are unique to them and HAL alone. But even more that the magnificent art collections, fresh flowers everywhere, the wonderful wide teak full walk around promenade decks, the ultimate in luxury and the superb lounges, bars and deck and sport facilities, as well as their excellent accommodations, I believe one of the greatest features of Holland America Line is its amazing crew!

The crew on HAL are simply wonderful and from experience I can say they are far superior to any of the other Carnival owned cruise company’s, such as; Cunard, P&O and Princess Cruises! For example I would give Cunard service a 7 out of 10, P&O - 6, Princess  - 5.5, and Holland America a worthwhile 9! Believe me I do not give 9s readily, it has to be earned!

Thus if you are heading off on a cruise in the near future, do go on one of the S-Class or the R-Class ships for you will without doubt enjoy you voyage much better than on the Vista or Signature Class ships, for 1. They are just too big and 2. Have too many people on board. For 2013 & 2014 summer season the ms Oosterdam will be operating Pacific & NZ cruises out of Sydney. The ms Volendam will operate a variety of cruises including voyages to Australian ports from Sydney, and Asian itineraries from Singapore and Hong Kong. The aforementioned ships will operate Trans-Pacific voyages available. ms Rotterdam will sail from Rotterdam via Southampton and the Suez Canal on one of the exciting 51 night itineraries to Singapore. Thereafter she will continue with a series of cruises from Singapore around Asia, as well as from Hong Kong, eventually returning to Rotterdam on a 53 night voyage. Both line voyages can be taken from/to Southampton being 1 night less. For details see our HAL News Updates link below.

Reuben Goossens.

Holland America Line hopes to welcome you onboard very soon!

-Also visit my other Holland America Pages-

Page One The History of Holland America Line and Today’s Modern Fleet

1872 to 2000

Page TwoThe History of Holland America Line and Today’s Modern Fleet

1993 to 2015

-Holland America Line Ships featured on Cruise-Australia-

ms Rotterdam - ms Prinsendam - ms Volendam - ms Zaandam - ms Oosterdam & ms Nieuw Amsterdam

-Cruise and Ship Reviews by the Author-

ms Oosterdam 2013 Cruise’n’Ship Review

ms Volendam Cruise Review - ms Amsterdam Ship Review

Check the latest Australian Cruise News

For a Holland America Line cruise brochure or for further information on their cruises from Australia or throughout the world, consult a registered cruise specialist who is a travel professional, or visit www.hollandamerica.com.au for general information.

 

Holland America Line hopes to Welcome you Onboard very soon!

 

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