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New Ship
Holland America Line


Inaugural Cruise: October 30, 2000



When Holland America Line's new flagship, the ms Amsterdam, entered service this fall, it carried on a storied tradition that predates the creation of the line and hearkens back to the heyday of Dutch exploration and trade with the far corners of the world.

Named for one of the Netherlands' great port cities, the earliest Amsterdam recorded in maritime records was a 200-ton galleon, which in 1595 joined a fleet of four ships sailing to Java. The venture established a direct trade in lucrative Oriental spices between Holland and the East Indies. In 1744, a second Amsterdam was built for the same long-distance trade.

Amsterdam I

The first ship named Amsterdam to be associated with De NederlandschAmerikaansche Stoomvart Maatschappij (NASM), the Dutch shipping consortium which later became known as Holland America Line, was built in 1879 in Scotland. At 2,064 tons, the Amsterdam carried 46 first-class passengers, 648 third-class passengers, and 57 crew. Constructed of iron, with two full decks, the ship could be rigged as a two-masted brig with square-rigged sails, and was capable of a speed of 10 knots.

The Amsterdam's maiden voyage from Rotterdam to New York departed March 27, 1880. Between 1882 and 1884, the ship sailed a regular trans-Atlantic service from Amsterdam to New York during the first years of the massive wave of European immigration to North America.

On July 30, 1884, the Amsterdam ran aground in fog near Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Due to the remoteness of the area and rough seas, the ship was deemed unsalvageable.

Amsterdam II

In 1887, NASM acquired the 2,303-ton British Crown from British Shipowners' Company of Liverpool, renaming it Amsterdam II and reuniting it with its sister ships Rotterdam II, Obdam and Werkendam. With a capacity of 96 first-class and 638 third-class passengers, and a crew of 67, Amsterdam II was constructed of iron, had three full decks and could be rigged as a four-masted barque.

Her maiden voyage under the green-and-white NASM flag was a trans-Atlantic crossing from Rotterdam to New York on Dec. 31, 1887. NASM retired the ship in May 1905.

Amsterdam III

The newest Amsterdam is the first ship of that name in the Holland America Line fleet, and is the sister ship to the line's flagship Rotterdam, which debuted in December 1997. Like the Rotterdam, the 1,380-passenger, 61,000-ton Amsterdam has twin stacks and the same popular features. She also is the first Holland America ship to have the revolutionary Azipod propulsion system, which gives the ship an operating speed of 22.5 knots, greater maneuverability and enhanced operating efficiencies.

The Amsterdam has a concierge deck with two penthouses and 50 suites, plus the private Neptune Lounge for the exclusive use of suite guests.

The ship also features Ocean views from 557 - or 81 percent - of the Amsterdam's 690 staterooms, 172 (25 percent) of which have private verandahs with glass balustrades, providing an unobstructed view of sea and scenery.

Other special features are:

  • The ornate Astrolabe clock tower as the centerpiece of the three-deck atrium.
  • The Four Seasons sculptures originally created for the ss Nieuw Amsterdam of 1938.
  • Bronzes of two brown bears fishing, created by British sculptor Susanna Holt, displayed at the Lido swimming pool. A cub will be displayed in a nearby alcove.
  • The Internet Café, located adjacent to the Java Café on Promenade Deck for increased visibility and accessibility by guests.


Internet CafeGuests on board Holland America Line's newest cruise ship, the 1,380-passenger ms Amsterdam, can sip an espresso drink while they surf the Internet. The ship's Internet Cafe is conveniently located on Promenade Deck, between the Java Café and the Atrium.

The new location will afford the Internet Café increased visibility and accessibility by guests and will permit the Amsterdam to retain the Puzzle Corner, another feature enjoyed by guests, adjacent to the library on Upper Promenade.

The Amsterdam joins her sister ship, ms Rotterdam, the ms Volendam, ms Zaandam, ms Maasdam and ms Statendam in offering the popular Internet service for its guests. The ms Ryndam is scheduled to be completed this October and the ms Westerdam, ms Veendam and ms Noordam in the fall of 2001.

The Internet Café, equipped with seven computer terminals and a printer, is open 24 hours; a staff member is on hand during posted times.

The basic charge to guests is $.75 per minute - the fee is based on the time the guest logs on to the time they log off. Charges are explained through an interface on the screen.

For guests sending e-mails through their CruisE-mail account, which is an e-mail service that has an Amsterdam ship address, there is an additional charge of $3.95 per each e-mail sent; there is no charge for e-mails received.

There is no additional charge beyond the basic charge for guests sending e-mail through their own Internet service provider, such as America Online, Prodigy, Hotmail, etc. Internet charges are billed to each guest's on-board account.

Guests also may use the following applications:

  • Video Mail - $4.95, plus the basic time charge, for a 15- to 20-second voice and video of you with e-mail included.
  • Games - $3.95, plus the basic time charge, for Tiger Woods Golf and You Don't Know Jack.
  • Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel - Basic time charge.

Instructions for using the Internet Café are posted at each computer terminal.


Logging on is easy. First, guests establish a user name consisting of their first initial, plus their last name and stateroom number. For example, John Smith in Stateroom 0038 would be entered as jsmith0038. The next step is to enter a password, which is the guest's booking number, found on their room key. The last step is to create a private password that can be easily remembered and which will be used throughout the cruise.

Once these three steps are completed, instructions appear on the screen to begin using the Internet service.

Maritime Telecommunications Network (MTN), a subsidiary of ICG Satellite Services, Inc., and Digital Seas International, Inc. (DSI) are providing the satellite connection and Internet services for The Web Site.

All of Holland America's upcoming new ships will have Internet centers and data ports in guest staterooms.


Astrolabe TowerThe focal point of the central atrium on board the new ms Amsterdam flagship is an elaborate Astrolabe, a 29.5-foot (9 meter) astronomical timepiece, with one clock synchronized with the ship's clock. Its base includes a carillon, with bells that will play melodious music.

Under development for a year, the Astrolabe was designed by Architectenbureau VFD, Utrecht, The Netherlands, and executed by artists Gilbert Lebigre and his wife Corinne Roger, of Pietrasanta, Italy, near Pisa, who have been creating art for Holland America Line's cruise ships since the Statendam, which was introduced in 1993.

"It will be a tower of time and representation of stars in the heavens, which has to do with time and the constellations. Corinne and I refer to it as celestial mechanics," said Lebigre.

F.C.J. Dingemans, managing director and owner of Architectenbureau VFD, and the principal designer of the interiors of Holland America Line's cruise ships, said the Astrolabe is similar in scale to the clock tower on board the Amsterdam's sister flagship, the ms Rotterdam.

"It will be very impressive and complex. You'll see much of it from the Ocean Bar area on Upper Promenade deck," said Dingemans. "Much of it will be Eco-Decor. It is something in between plaster and clay and is made of recycled material and is itself recyclable. It is something Corinne and Gilbert have been working on for 15 years."

The floor surrounding the Astrolabe is of marble and glass; beneath the clock tower the lighted clock mechanism can be viewed through the glass. Lower portions of the tower are of cast aluminum. In order to reduce the weight of the piece, Eco-Decor is used on the portions closer to the ceiling.

Lebigre said that when the celestial clock was first proposed it was a huge challenge.

"We started with Mr. Dingemans' drawings and developed the three-dimensional poetic mechanics that is in the center of the piece. It will move with the time on the hour," he said. "There will be a lot of movement, the bells will start ringing a melody and the four clock faces have movement.

"One will have 24-hour time, one will be a calendar with a zodiac. On the other side, you will be able to see the constellations as they appear in the night sky of Amsterdam. And on the back, you will have the world time with the names of towns that tell the time around the world. We invented this way of doing it; I've never seen it before. It is a very complex mechanical piece. The time-keeping function will be keyed to the ship's clock but the other faces will work according to the mechanical works inside.

"We'll also have a planetarium with the planets moving around the earth - the universe before Galileo," Lebigre continued.


La Fontaine Dining RoomA colorful and expansive stained glass ceiling, a masterpiece employing new technology expressly developed for this project, provides an impressive artistic focal point for guests enjoying fine cuisine in the new ms Amsterdam's La Fontaine Dining Room.

Placing a large stained glass ceiling on a cruise ship has long been a dream of F.C.J. Dingemans, managing director and owner of Architectenbureau VFD, Utrecht, The Netherlands, and the principal designer of the interiors of Holland America Line's cruise ships.

It was a matter of developing the technology to do it, a challenge accepted by the engineers at Ciltron BV of Sliedrecht, The Netherlands, which specializes in the construction of large artworks, and the glassmakers at Tetterode of Voorthuizen, The Netherlands, one of the foremost glass fabricators in Europe. The realization of the dream features a floral motif designed by glass artist Lia Koster of Utrecht, using softly colored, hand-made glass created in a nearby studio.

"Since it is so large and is on a moving ship we can't make the ceiling by traditional stained glass methods of putting the glass in leaded frames. So, here, the glass is cut by hand and then put into these frames that are steel," said Koster.

"The individual cut panes of glass are fixed with a special flexible compound that holds them together and looks like real leaded glass. Then, the colored glass is laminated. This is a new technique ... and allows us to make a ceiling with almost 140 square meters (1,500 square feet) of stained glass. The stained glass is set on laminated clear glass, which gives it the strength and stability that it needs on the ship," she continued.

"The clear glass is finely sand blasted to hide the construction of the frame and the fiber optic lights above. The ceiling will be fit in such a way that even during daylight you'll be able to see the light coming through the ceiling."

Flowers in shades of green, blue, orange, and yellow bring life to the ceiling. Koster also created a light strip that circles the room with the same flower and color motif

"I think that the passengers will never know how much engineering skill and technology went into this project," Koster says. "We really had to create new methods of doing this. But, I think the important thing is that they can enjoy the beauty of the ceiling while they are dining."

The Amsterdam's La Fontaine Dining Room provides one of the most beautiful dining venues on the high seas.

Seating 747 on two levels joined by a pair of graceful, curved staircases, the dining room is situated at the stern of the ship, where a wall of windows provides expansive ocean views on three sides.

A large number of tables have either window or balcony seats. In addition, a raised area in the center of the lower dining room affords views for those center tables.

On the upper level, a music balcony overlooks the main floor - a popular feature first used on the ss Nieuw Amsterdam of 1938. From the balcony, a string sextet or other musicians will serenade dinner guests.

Also on the upper level, two side dining rooms - the King's and Queen's rooms - each provide seating for 44 for groups or private parties.

The dining room is decorated in shades of blue, green, yellow and orange to capture the colors of the ceiling. The carpet is green and blue with a stylized fruit motif. Chairs are upholstered with rich yellow leather. Art Deco lamps provide soft lighting throughout the room. The King's and Queen's rooms carry the theme through from the dining room.

Soft yellow linens cover the tables set with white Rosenthal china embellished with a gold Holland America Line logo and W.M.F. silver flatware and hollowware, including wine coolers and vases.


Many artists begin their works of art by making sketches, but very few risk their lives in the wilderness getting those sketches.

BearsBritish artist Susanna Holt of Miami and London, a world-renowned sculptor, had several heart-pounding moments in the wilds of Alaska as she observed grizzly bears in their natural habitat to begin creating sculptures for Holland America Line's newest flagship, the ms Amsterdam. Her research trip was documented for a video about the creation of the large bronze animal sculptures; plans are for it to be made available to Holland America Line guests and others.

Holt has created a life-size grouping of Alaskan brown bears for the Lido pool area on the Amsterdam and getting to know her subjects was an important part of the project. "I was attracted to bears for many years and I've had a yen to do a grouping of them, particularly young grizzly bear cubs, for a very long time," she says, "So I was thrilled to get this commission."

A visit to grizzly country in Alaska was her next stop.

"There really is no substitute for seeing them in their own natural habitat. You have to be able to see and absorb the characteristic behavior and subtle mannerisms of the animal, see the animals moving and behaving normally and naturally," she says. "In a zoo you can get close enough to study their heads and eyes, nostrils, and other details of their anatomy. But if you want to really get inside the skin of the animal ... and really feel the nature of it, well, you have to be with that animal in the wild, and that meant going to Alaska.

"I flew from Anchorage to King Salmon, then on to Brooks Camp. There you can observe the bears from a hide, which is relatively safe. You do have to watch carefully, but I was able to photograph them in great detail." From there, Holt traveled 100 miles into the depths of the Alaska Peninsula by float plane with a team of professionals who have done work for the National Geographic Society.

"We put down on a very small lake, so small in fact that I wondered if we could ever make it out of there, let alone actually land on it," she said.

"They told me to go down to the river and look for trouble! Bears! Of course they were going to stand on the bank and photograph me," she recalls. "So off I went. The air was pungent with the smell of bear ... We found a lot of bears - they were everywhere and we had to behave accordingly. We had to be very careful. We knew bear etiquette and kept our distance, standing in the middle of the strong current of the river.

"We went out onto a little island in the middle of the river and they came within maybe 10 to 15 feet of us. At one point while I was making sketches of them, a sow and her cubs came too close. Time to go! You must never run from a bear or turn your back. Always walk backwards and talk to it firmly. But, your heart is pounding. When you see them so close, their eyes are very sinister. They are extremely unpredictable animals. However, they inspire awe, and command tremendous respect - very powerful animals in every way."

Holt has had a life-long love of nature and her work appears in major collections around the world. Her life-like studies of leaping dolphins can be seen on all the new Holland America ships beginning with the ms Statendam in 1993.

The group of bears Holt created for the Amsterdam shows them fishing. "A sow and her yearling cub stand by the water. The sow is relaxed and watching. The yearling is attempting to catch a fish by swiping the water with its paw," she says. "Right now, the plan is to have water flowing down into the pool between them. I've also created a sculpture of a spring bear cub in an alcove near the Lido Bar. It's a real baby, a month or so out of the den."

Holt begins her sculptures by making a one-quarter life-size model first and then enlarging it in clay. Then, two-part molds are made from Polyurethane, from which waxes are made, invested, then cast into bronze. The video will document the process.


Odyssey RestaurantGuests dining in the ms Amsterdam's charming Odyssey Restaurant will find themselves captivated not only by the fine Italian cuisine, but also by the whimsical artwork adorning the niches along the walls. The artfully elegant Odyssey alternative restaurant has a contemporary pan-European flair, featuring warm burl wood, and a red, black, gold and cream décor.

The Amsterdam's principal architect, Frans Dingemans of the firm VFD Interiors, Utrecht, The Netherlands, planned the Odyssey's concept.

"We've chosen a series of paintings by a fine artist, Bas Sebus, that will all have a scenic theme," said Dingemans. "Basically, they are landscapes showing the view out over a beautiful countryside. He paints very realistic scenes with surrealistic overtones. There will be outdoor terraces, gardens and ocean. But there will also be such touches as cows under umbrellas!"

In the passageway outside the restaurant, guests will find some very special and rare artworks: carved Baroque angels that most likely decorated a large organ, originally holding musical instruments. The museum-quality pieces are carved from single pieces of wood. Originally multicolored, they were painted white in the 18th century to look like marble and conform with the artistic tastes of the time.

Guests visiting the 88-seat restaurant will dine on Italian cuisine developed by Master Chef Reiner Greubel, corporate executive chef for Holland America Line.

A typical evening's menu in the Odyssey Restaurant provides a wide selection of choices. For starters, guests may choose from dishes that may include Antipasto, bresaola, salami, prosciutto, seafood and marinated Italian pickles, or Carpaccio Cipriani, seared beef tenderloin, thin-sliced and wrapped with black peppercorns and mustard.

Pasta selections may include Penne Arrabbiata con Prosciutto, penne pasta with prosciutto, spicy tomato and basil sauce, or Linguine al Pesto con Gamberoni, linguine pasta with grilled prawns.

Guests may select entrees such as Costoletta di Vitelto al Carbone, sage and rosemary broiled veal chop, served on sautéed eggplant and peppers with roasted red potatoes; Petto de Pollo Rustico, grilled chicken breast with mushroom, tomato concasee and gorgonzola, served on penne pasta; or Osso Buco alla Milanese, braised veal shank in rich red wine sauce with saffron risotto and asparagus.

Dessert - or Dolce - choices may include such delights as Torta al Cioccolato, warm flourless chocolate cake complimented with a raspberry couli, or Panna Cotta alla Nocciola, hazelnut custard served on fresh fruits.

Lunch may feature such specialties as Pizza Odyssey, with goat cheese, salami, coppa, mushrooms, calamata olives, crisp pancetta, tomato sauce, fontina cheese and oregano, or Inselate Nizza, grilled tuna on bed of young greens complemented with potatoes, eggs, green beans, tomato, red onions, cucumber, capers and a light mustard dressing.

Amsterdam guests who wish to dine in the Odyssey Restaurant for lunch or dinner need only make an advance reservation; there is no additional charge.


The ms Amsterdam, sister flagship to the ms Rotterdam, is the first vessel in the Holland America Line fleet to employ the revolutionary Azipod propulsion system.

Developed in partnership by ABB Industry and Kvaerner Masa-Yards of Helsinki, Finland, the Azipod units provide advantages in operations, maneuverability and fuel efficiency far exceeding traditional cruise ship propulsion systems.

The azimuthing propulsion units (Azipods) developed for passenger vessels are based on similar designs employed on ice-breaking tanker ships. Everything needed to propel the ship is contained in two housings - or pods - suspended perpendicular to the ship's hull.

The revolutionary aspect of the Azipod design is that it pulls a vessel through the water rather than pushes it like conventional propulsion systems. The Azipod electric propulsion units can turn a full 360 degrees. Each incorporates a 15.5-megawatt electric AC motor, capable of producing 21,000 horsepower, located inside the propeller pod that directly drives a fixed-pitch propeller, delivering very high torque to the propeller. Azipods eliminate the need for rudders, long shaft lines, conventional drive units and stern thrusters, all of which take up on-board space and add weight and expense. Also, since the propeller is working in water that is not disturbed by shaft lines, it is much more efficient.

Other advantages of the technology include increased fuel efficiencies (savings of up to 40 tons of fuel oil per week of operation), enhanced maneuverability and overall reductions of noise and vibration.

The Amsterdam, was constructed at the Fincantieri shipyard at Marghera, Italy, and entered service on Oct. 30, 2000. The ship will be deployed on 10-day Panama Canal cruises between Ft. Lauderdale and Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, followed by European and Eastern Canada cruises in 2001, and the Grand World Voyage in 2002.

Information provided by Holland America Line. Photos by Andy Newman, Bob Jackson & Holland America Line.


To read more information and view many more photos of Amsterdam, click HERE!

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