Holland America Christens Oosterdam

July 29, 2003
Holland America today christened the 81,769-ton, 1,848-passenger Oosterdam in Rotterdam. The choice of Rotterdam for the inauguration ceremonies was a sentimental one; Holland America itself was "born" here, in 1873, and this year is celebrating its 130th anniversary. 
The Netherlands' Princess Margriet served as godmother, her second such stint. She also was godmother on Rotterdam though, ironically, due to seasonal timing, that ship was inaugurated in Ft. Lauderdale rather than Rotterdam. Speaking of which, Rotterdam (the ship, not the city), helped provide quite a dramatic backdrop to the festivities -- it was docked nose-to-nose (or should we say bow-to-bow) to Oosterdam. The two ships were barely 12 feet apart.
The ceremony was rather low-key but joyful nevertheless. There was the company's traditional "blessing of the bell," in which captain Hans van Biljouw, Oosterdam's master, and representative members of Holland America's Mariner Society, each tossed a glass of champagne at the bell. That prompted one wag in the crowd of at least 5,000 to quip "that's a waste of good stuff."
The most dramatic moment was the ceremonial champagne-smash-against-hull. In this case, the magnum, which was hanging from a rigging on Rotterdam, then sailed via high wire to Oosterdam and successfully crashed against its hull. At that point, festive bedlam erupted; with doves were set free, flags were unfurled (Rotterdam had the American, Oosterdam's was Dutch), and confetti was tossed from each ship. The event concluded with ceremonial horn-blasting from Oosterdam and Rotterdam.
Oosterdam, the second ship in Holland America's Vista class, means "east" in Dutch. It's the tenth ship built for the line by Fincantieri (at present, Fincantieri is responsible for all current vessels except for Noordam and Prinsendam).
Oosterdam will sail its maiden voyage on August 3, offering a series of four Baltic itineraries before heading south for autumnal cruises in the Western Mediterranean. After a big band-themed transatlantic repositioning, Oosterdam will spend the winter offering alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages out of its home port in Pt. Everglades.