Eurodam Inaugural in Rotterdam

| July 4, 2008

CruiseMates' editor Paul Motter reports from the newly-presented Holland America ship Eurodam, just officially "named" in Rotterdam, Holland.

Holland America's newest ship, Eurodam, is the first of the line's new "Signature-class" of vessels. This ship's design and innovations may be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but it is still a wonder-child in all the most important ways. Holland America finally has a single ship combining all the best elements the company has produced over the decades.

Queen Beatrix at dedication Ceremony   Queen Beatrix, Micky Arison, and HAL CEO Stein Kruse   Champagne Bottle at the Ready

Holland America has a rich, international heritage. The company was founded 135 years ago and for many years was headquartered in Rotterdam, Holland, where the ship's "naming ceremony" was held on July 1.

Presiding was the reigning monarch of Holland, 70-year-old Queen Beatrix, who executed her role perfectly. After invoking the blessing and officially dubbing the vessel "Eurodam," she hit the switch that sent a bottle of champagne smashing against its hull, to the delight of thousands of spectators.

Here is a short (1 minute) video of the actual naming and champagne drop part of the ceremony in Rotterdam. It was a very perfect ceremony with weather to match.

This is the 10th vessel to be launched by a member of the Dutch Royal Family. The first was the 1929 Statendam III by Prince Hendrik and the previous one was the 2003 Oosterdam by Princess Margriet.

Attributes of Eurodam While Eurodam's superstructure is that of an enhanced Vista-class ship, similar to Oosterdam and Westerdam, an added deck provides the extra space needed to build a utile interior of public rooms and plenty of spacious cabins with bathtubs and deep verandahs.

Her décor is a combination of tasteful modern styles, with soothing yet vibrant colors such as silver and teal with avocado green and peach highlights. A huge, solid glass chandelier resembling an inverted volcanic cone suspends from the ceiling, dominating the main atrium. A glass staircase with gold-plated bannisters wraps around the glass ceiling piece.

Atrium Glass Ceiling   Decor Colors: Silver, Teal, Peach

All of the recognizable Holland America rooms are present, such as the Queen's Lounge, which also serves as the Culinary Arts center; the Explorer's Lounge, the Pinnacle Bar and Pinnacle Grill, and the Rembrandt Dining Room, which provides both assigned seating and "anytime dining" for people who do not want to adhere to a structured dining schedule (this alternative is now available fleet-wide).

Silk Tree Bar   Silk Tree Private Room   Silk Tree bar

Eurodam has all the best elements ever included on a Holland America ship. For example, until the year 2000, all Holland America ships had a dedicated movie theater, but it was missing on the four previous "Vista-class" ships built in the last six years. Happily, the 36-seat movie theater is back on Eurodam, and in style. It is bigger than ever, with plush loge seats and the traditional Holland America old-fashioned popcorn machine.

Eurodam has a beautiful décor, with a collection of antiques in display cases and pictures of Holland America Line memorabilia everywhere. The art collection is significant enough to warrant a self-guided walking tour, which has already been produced and will be available on iPods on all cruises soon.

Indonesian Waitress   Elegant Dining in the Rembrandt

Holland America -- Dutch Through and Through Holland America ships, all registered in Holland, reflecting the nation's rich maritime history. Although the company headquarters moved to Seattle, WA, decades ago, all the ships of Holland America are still registered in Holland. They do NOT fly the flag of a "nation of convenience." The locals are visibly proud of the line's Dutch heritage, as witnessed by the crowds of spectators who lined the shores of the river Maas for our two-hour journey upstream to Rotterdam.

The crew is comprised mostly of Dutch officers assisted by Indonesian and Filipino crewmembers - the same personnel mix as Holland America has maintained throughout its history. A new crew feature, however, is the addition of Indonesian ladies, who serve as waitresses in the finer restaurants. These ladies are tall and beautiful, with quiet voices and gentle, deep brown eyes. The company still recruits through its own training centers in Jakarta and Manilla.

New Ship Features -- MicroSoft Digital Workshops Eurodam includes a host of new amenities special enough that most will soon be implemented across the line's 14 ships.

One outstanding new feature is a computer center sponsored by MicroSoft. The technology company, also from Seattle, quadrupled bandwidth of the Internet connection and also offers a variety of onboard computer classes now free of charge. (Previously, Vista-class Holland America ship advanced computer classes carried a fee.)

There are several bonuses to this new arrangement. not only are the classes all free, but the ship is now wireless enabled from bow to stern. In fact, I personally found the access "speed" to be much better using my laptop in my cabin than I did in the Web Café area. For those who had experienced it, it is a huge improvement over the Internet acess on the Vista-class ships.

The free workshops, taught by MicroSoft "techsperts," provide classes in digital photography, including digital scrapbooking, movie editing, cropping pictures, red-eye reduction and how to set up a blog. Multiple workshops are to be held every day, all free, and guests can take none or all of them as they wish. One-on-one coaching is also available for up to 20 hours/week.

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