Holland America Line will bid a fond farewell to the ms Westerdam on March 10 as the ship leaves its fleet after 643 voyages during a career spanning more than 13 years with the company.
"The departure of a ship from our fleet is always a poignant occasion. The Westerdam is a wonderful cruise ship. She has provided more than a
million guests with many happy memories and it is bitterwseet to bid her farewell," said A. Kirk Lanterman, Holland America Line chairman and CEO. "We wish her a long and joyous service with our sister company, Costa Cruciere, as
we look forward to welcoming the next generation of Holland America Line ships
beginning this fall."
The Westerdam, with 1,347 guests on board, departed from Ft. Lauderdale March 2 on its final cruise under the Holland America Line flag -- an
eight-day Eastern Caribbean cruise visiting Nassau, Bahamas, San Juan, Puerto Rico
; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and HAL's own private island paradise, Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.
The Westerdam has been a favorite with families and long-time Holland America alumni, since joining the HAL fleet. The ship, which began
service as the former Home Lines' Homeric in 1986, was named the Westerdam and officially entered service with Holland America Line on Nov. 12, 1988.
The Westerdam's arrival expanded the fleet to four ships and signaled the beginning of a new era
of growth for Holland America that continues today. The Westerdam underwent a notable $84 million renovation in 1989 during which
it was "stretched" by a then-cruise industry record 130 feet, increasing its capacity 1,000 to 1,494 guests and its size from 42,000 gross tons to 53,872.
With the departure of the Westerdam, Holland America has a fleet of nine cruise ships, which will increase once again to 10 on April 23, with the acquisition of the Seabourn Sun, entering service with HAL on June 3 as the 794-passenger ms Prinsendam.
Holland America Line's fleet will continue to grow for the foreseeable future with its Vista series -- five 1,848-passenger ships entering service through 2006, beginning with the ms Zuiderdam this fall and the ms Oosterdam
in spring 2003.