Celebrating 150 years of maritime history with Holland America Line

This month Holland America Line is celebrating its 150th anniversary. To mark the occasion the company is organizing various events and has introduced unique products related to the historic event.

Historic 150th Anniversary Crossing

Last October, Rotterdam VII, Holland America Line’s flagship, departed on a historic transatlantic crossing. The ship departed the Netherlands on a replica maiden voyage undertaken 150 years ago by the first Rotterdam. The first voyage departed the city of Rotterdam October 15, 1872, and arrived in New York on November 5. The length of the crossing between Rotterdam and New York depended largely on the weather conditions. On average it took from 15 to 20 days. The special 150th Anniversary Crossing followed the path of that first sailing to New York, with calls at Le Havre, France, and Plymouth, England. You can find out more about the special crossing here.

For a closer look at the maiden voyage of Rotterdam in 1872 click here.

The company is celebrating its 150 anniversary with a special 150th Anniversary Transatlantic Crossing. The unique crossing from New York will arrive at Rotterdam April 18, the cruise line’s 150th birthday. During the voyage aboard Rotterdam guests will be treated to a host of touches to mark the company’s birthday. Special programming will include cuisine from previous Holland America Line voyages dating back to the 1920s, a Throwback Happy Hour that rolls back time with drinks priced as low as 75 cents, Dutch High Tea, a Rijsttafel pop-up in Tamarind, anniversary-themed trivia and presentations by Bill Miller, maritime historian and Holland America Line authority, that relived the history and roots of the company.

150th Anniversary limited-edition beer

To commemorate the event Holland America Line introduced a limited-edition Pilsner beer – HAL Pils. Made in partnership with Pike Brewing the Pilsner beer is served on board across the fleet. Holland America Line chose the Seattle-based brewing company to honor the location of its U.S. headquarters and position as Seattle’s Hometown Cruise Line.

The commemorative can is adorned with the iconic Jan van Beers poster of 1898 showing a woman in a nautical-blue dress and striped, white hat that mirrors the funnels of the Holland America Line steamship she’s holding above her head. Holland America Line gave the label a twist with the company’s modern logo and updated color scheme.

De Lijn gin

Holland America Line also introduced an exclusive gin in honor of its 150th anniversay. The De Lijn gin combines modern botanicals with a hint of Dutch tradition.

De Lijn holland america line gin

De Lijn is a nod to Holland America Line’s roots, the bottle is adorned with a label boasting the name in Dutch orange, accented with line drawings of brilliant blue juniper berries in a style the cruise line has coined as Modern Delft, an homage to iconic blue and white of Dutch Delftware. The gin is made with a blend of Dutch inspired botanicals, including orange and rose, along with elderberry, lemon verbena, lemon, raspberry and juniper. Each botanical is cold distilled separately for distinct and consistent flavors. The result is a premium gin, made in America, inspired by the Netherlands, and specially crafted for Holland America Line. You can find out more about the De Lijn gin here.

150th Anniversary Heritage Cruises

Holland America Line is taking guests on a series of 48 Heritage Cruises that authentically focus on ports rich in the brand’s history and feature unique onboard and shoreside experiences. From a marquee city like Rotterdam, the Netherlands, that shares an intwined connection to the company’s beginnings to meaningful ports like Skagway and Juneau that introduced the world to Alaska cruising, guests will become fully immersed in Holland America Line’s Dutch seafaring heritage.

The Heritage Cruises offer unique itineraries in Alaska, the Caribbean, Northern Europe, Mediterranean, Australia/New Zealand, Hawaii, South America and Mexico. These special voyages shine a spotlight on 56 ports of call and delve into the region-specific stories that connect these locales to the cruise line. You can find out more about Holland America Line’s 150th Anniversary Heritage Cruises here.

Holland America Line Exhibit at Ellis Island

Upon arrival in America, immigrants were greeted by the Statue of Liberty. Coinciding with Holland America Line’s 150th anniverary you can now put yourself in their shoes at a new exhibit open at Ellis Island. Holland America Line partnered with The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation to celebrate the cruise line’s 150-year journey from immigrant carrier to consumer ocean liner fleet.

The exhibit details the brand’s historical prominence in bringing one in 10 immigrants from Europe to the United States. The Holland America Line exhibit brings these immigration stories to life, displaying passenger manifests, historical photos, past ship information, classic Holland America Line posters, and Dutch-themed memorabilia.

Holland America Line passenger lists

Did you ever wonder if your ancestors traveled from Europe to America with Albert Einstein? Or maybe if they were on the same ship as Eddie Van Halen when he came to America on Ryndam in the early sixties Now there’s an easy way to find out.

holland america line passenger list einstein

As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, Holland America Line is sharing an incredible resource that provides a personal look at the cruise line’s role in immigration stories and the close relationship the company has with the Netherlands.

The CBG – Center for Family History teamed up with Rotterdam City Archives and spent 3 years digitizing Holland America Line’s passenger logs from 1900 to 1969. The database includes some surprising information, including children being born onboard and even a dog that travelled all by itself. One notable passenger was a stowaway. On June 30, 1917, the Nieuw Amsterdam departed Rotterdam with one extra passenger. During the trip, the crew found passenger Pieter Kuit did not pay for his trip. The passenger list is marked with a red pen “A stowaway was on board”. There are also some famous passengers found on the passenger lists, including Albert Einstein. He sailed between Rotterdam and New York on the S.S. Rotterdam on March 23, 1921. His name appears on the passenger lists several times over the years.

The database includes approximately 150,000 passenger logs and documents which you can easily access at home by clicking here.

Official event in Rotterdam

On April 18, Holland America Line’s sesquicentennial birthday, Rotterdam VII will arrive at its namesake city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to revel with local dignitaries, port officials and guests. Zuiderdam will be at Amsterdam, the Netherlands, that day and host an evening gala party on board for Grand World Voyage guests.

Holland America Line President Gus Antorcha will lead the celebrations. Also scheduled to attend the events are Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Rotterdam’s godmother; Ahmed Aboutaleb, mayor of Rotterdam; and descendants from two families of Holland America Line’s original founders.

“Holland America Line is a company that takes deep pride in our heritage and respects the role we played in history, so our 150th anniversary events honor our tradition while recognizing the brand we are today,” said Antorcha. “All of the festivities we have planned carry special meaning, and we’re excited to celebrate with so many individuals who have been a part of our story throughout the years, alongside our guests, team members and the people of the Netherlands.”

Upon Rotterdam’s arrival at Rotterdam April 18, the 150th Anniversary celebrations begin at Hotel New York, home to Holland America Line’s historic headquarters. The cruise line will present a commemorative 150th Anniversary bell, in the style of a traditional ship bell, to be permanently displayed at the hotel. At the event, Princess Margriet will follow Holland America Line’s ritual of blessing the bell before it is donated to Hotel New York.

In addition, an original share of the first Holland America Line stock shares will be presented to be kept as part of a special collection in the city of Rotterdam archives. At the ceremony, PostNL, the postal office of the Netherlands, also will unveil a 24-carat collectable 150th anniversary gold-foil stamp to commemorate the special milestone. Available for purchase throughout the Netherlands, only a limited edition of just 1,000 will be produced.

Following a Gala Dinner on board Rotterdam and Zuiderdam, the celebrations move to the Lido pool area with live music and a toast to the special day. Anniversary-themed parties also will be held on the nine other ships in Holland America Line’s fleet.

Also read: Disney Cruise Line celebrates silver anniversary at sea

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