The sun shined over a crowd of more than 1,500 travel agents, local officials and maiden voyage guests during the naming ceremony of Holland America Line
's ms Westerdam in Venice, Italy on April 25. The 1,848-passenger Westerdam embarked its maiden voyage guests and sailed its inaugural 12-day cruise from Venice to Greece, Turkey and Croatia.
The naming ceremony took place on the "Festa del Boccolo," or St. Mark's Day, the holiday celebrating the patron saint of Venice. As is tradition on this day, every woman received a red rose and Dutch actress Renée Soutendijk named the ship in fitting style, with a rose being launched toward the bow to signal the breaking of a champagne bottle against the Westerdam's name on the ship's hull. Prior to the naming ceremony colorfully costumed performers from a Venetian 16th century-style carnival troupe performed for guests.
"It was a very special celebration as we dedicated our first ship in Venice, Italy," said Stein Kruse, president and chief operating officer, Holland America Line. "The ship is beautiful and runs very well. I was proud to share in the moment with our maiden voyage guests, our friends in Italy, and several top travel sellers."
Following the naming ceremony, guests aboard the sold-out maiden voyage enjoyed
a special reception as the ship overnighted in Venice before departing the next day. The ship will visit Dubrovnik, Santorini, Rhodes, Pythagorion, Athens, and Katakolon, Greece, Kusadasi, Turkey, and Valletta, Malta.
Born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 1957, Renee Soutendijk has appeared in more than 50 films and TV programs. In 1991 she made her first American film, playing the title character in "Eve of Destruction" (1991), also starring Gregory Hines. She was honored with the well-known German film industry's Adolf Grimme Prize in 1999.
Like its sisters, ms Zuiderdam and ms Oosterdam, the new Westerdam boasts a spacious design for public areas and staterooms with a high passenger space ratio of 46. And 85 percent of its staterooms have ocean views, with 67 percent of all staterooms sporting verandahs, including the new value-priced stateroom category -- Deluxe Verandah Outside -- the best verandah value at sea. Penthouse and Deluxe Verandah Suite guests also enjoy the use of a private concierge lounge. The ms Westerdam will be the first ship delivered complete
with the Signature of Excellence cabin amenities, including plush Euro-top mattresses, fluffy robes, and make-up mirrors in all cabins.