Holland America Crew Member Lost At Sea

February 22, 2006

Tragically, a crew member aboard Holland America's Amsterdam was lost at sea Saturday as the ship returned to San Diego from Hawaii. As a result of a major U.S. Coast Guard effort to search for the individual, Amsterdam's return was delayed by a day -- and passengers who were slated to board the ship for the next cruise found their trip shortened.

In a letter to passengers onboard at the time, Captain Dirk Van Den Berg wrote, "On February 17 at 0800 a crew member did not report to duty to the ship's galley. Despite several thorough and extensive searches of the ship, we have not been able to locate him. While respecting the privacy of the crew member and his family, there is absolutely no indication of foul play." The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched two C-130 search planes to assist in the search, along with one other search vessel.

The crew member was a cook who had worked for Holland America for six years. Wrote Van Den Berg in his note, "The hopes and prayers of the officers and crew of the MS Amsterdam are with this crew member and his loved ones."

Amsterdam, slated to return on Monday, was delayed until Tuesday. Passengers onboard were given free Internet and phone to change travel arrangements and alert family members. Holland America made changes for folks with air/sea packages; independent travelers were required to make their rebookings on their own. Either way, the cruise line says it will reimburse passengers for change fees.

For those folks who arrived in San Diego on Monday expecting to board the ship, the cruise line arranged for hotel stays. It offered up to $50 reimbursement for dinner costs and other compensation, such as the option for a 25 percent refund in the form of a future travel discount or 10 percent cash refund that will be paid onboard or applied against the onboard bill.

Because of the delay, this week's sailing was required to cancel its scheduled call at Nawiliwili, on Kauai.