Holland America Line Celebrates 150th Anniversary in Rotterdam

Holland America Line celebrated its milestone 150th anniversary yesterday at the Hotel New York in Rotterdam, the former headquarters of the cruise line from 1901 to 1977, with a special ceremony featuring Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. The event took place inside a room that once served as the luggage collection grounds for immigrants in the early 1900s.

Taking the stage to a crowd of invited guests from around the world, Princess Margriet blessed a commemorative 150th Anniversary bell by pouring champagne over it.

The bell is being donated to Hotel New York to be on permanent display with a plaque that reads “on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of its founding, Holland America Line presented this bell blessed by Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet to Hotel New York in commemoration of this building’s role in the company’s history.”

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be representing thousands of Holland America Line team members on this day, the 150th anniversary of our company. Today we celebrate the past and the future,” said Holland America Line President Gus Antorcha. “After 150 years, with our ships now travelling to every corner of the globe, staffed by team members representing dozens of different nationalities, we at Holland America, still consider Rotterdam our spiritual home. This is where it all started.”

Attendees got a first look at a new collectable HAL 150th Anniversary gold-foil stamp that features the first Rotterdam ship in the company’s long history and the latest flagship Rotterdam, the seventh to take the name.

The ceremony also featured the presentation of one of the original HAL stock shares by descendants of Holland America Line’s original founders. The original company share will now be kept as part of a special collection in the Rotterdam City Archives.

“It’s been a privilege to celebrate with so many individuals who have been a part of our story throughout the years. And that story is far from over. The celebration of 150 years is about more than our history, it’s about how we are building on the legacy upon this great brand to make it relevant for the next 150 years,” Antorcha said. “A company is just a concept, it’s a legal entity formed to achieve a goal. What makes a company special, and allows it to succeed for 150 years is its people. People are what it’s all about and it’s been that way from the start. From those first early days, we built our reputation on the care we provided to every person who stepped on board. And through the decades, whether that person was an immigrant, a titan of industry, a soldier or a vacationer, each of them was treated as though they were a guest in our own home and that is still a hallmark of our brand today.”

In a one-on-one interview with PressToday, Rob Coleman, VP of North America sales, shared that Rotterdam also holds personal meaning to him as it’s where HAL worked alongside the city to house Ukrainian refugees last year.

“As a team, we provided humanitarian relief, and it’s just another way that Holland America Line has shown up on on the front steps of world scenarios, wars, pandemics, political unrest,” he told TressToday. “I’m just continually amazed at how Holland America Line has been able to be a part of and be of service. When you looked at the memorabilia that is on display at Hotel New York, you see the way Holland America Line has been touching people’s lives, not just from a vacation standpoint, but from the restart of lives in the new world to [housing refugees] last year. I’m very proud to be a part of this family.”

Following the Hotel New York celebration, HAL held another celebration onboard Rotterdam featuring a gala dinner, live music, celebratory cocktails and a large birthday cake.

“For a day that took 150 years to get here, it went by awfully quickly,” Antorcha noted.