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Holland America Crowns 'King' Of Ships

Kudos to Holland America for moving into the 21st century…make that the 20th century. For the first time since 1873, a Holland America ship is getting an original name.

It’s the ms Koningsdam.

The ship will arrive in 2016 and be the biggest in Holland America’s aging fleet. Of the 15 ships currently still part of the fleet, four are at least 20 years old and all but three are at least 10 years old. The last new ship will be age six by the time the Koningsdam arrives. ms KoningsdamThe comparable in people years would be about age 33…so imagine being 33 and getting a new sister!


The name means “king” in Dutch. The timing is ideal because it pays tribute to King Willem-Alexander, who last year became the first king of the Netherlands in more than 100 years. The last male Dutch male baby was Prince Alexander, who was born in 1851…and that’s today’s history lesson.

Clearly, Holland America was waiting for another king to come up with another original name for a ship. Hmm, wonder if this ship will have a “godfather” when its name becomes official?

The Koningsdam will carry 2,650 passengers. The average Holland America ship carries 1,650 and the Nieuw Amsterdam — the last new ship in 2010 — has a capacity of 2,106. By today’s standards, all are far from being classified as “mega ships.” In advance of the Koningdam’s arrival, two other Holland America ships — the Ryndam and the Statendam — will be departing (in 2015) for Australia to sail under the P&O flag.

The familiar three-letter suffix at the end of all Holland America ships remains intact. One thing nobody’s been able to say about this cruise line for a long time is that it’s adding another “dam” ship.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
7 nights
November 30, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Coco Cay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

About The Laying Of A New Cruise Ship's Keel…

Having never seen the laying of a keel on a cruise ship, we were intrigued by the opportunity to watch the procedure online. It was courtesy of Viking, the river cruise line that's soon to be an ocean cruise line, once its Viking Star is in the water next year.

If you're interested, click here: vikingcruises.com.

It only takes two minutes but be forewarned: about 25 seconds of it is devoted to the "breath-taking moment" — the laying of the keel. The rest is information and Star-keel layingface time for Viking owner Torstein Hagen, whose vision it was to add a 928-passenger ship to the worldwide fleet.

The Viking Star will be an evolution of sorts. Billed as "the ship our river passengers inspired us to build" it hopes to fill one of the remaining niche markets that still exists on the ocean.

And by the way, the Star is sold out for 2015.

Holland America Statendam
7 nights
September 21, 2014
Vancouver (return): Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm, Ketchikan
Inside: $529
Cost per day: $75

Concerts and Cruises a Match

Last weekend, our soon-to-be nine-year-old granddaughter celebrated her birthday 10 days early when her parents treated her to a One Direction concert. This is not to be confused with Fifth Dimension, a band from her grandparents' era.

In this age of inflated everything, tickets to One Direction — or 1D — are right up there with weekly mortgage payments — even when the seats are up there where nosesbleed. So when you put famous bands on big cruise ships, the price understandably goes up.

For the "concert" and the cruise.

The latest such example is the Matchbox Twenty cruise on the Carnival Imagination. This is a rock band that, oddly enough, is the same age as the ship (1995). Unlike the Imagination, Matchbox Twenty has not been performing non-stop for the last 18 years but when you've been nominated for Grammy Awards and known around the world, the occasional hiatus is allowed.

But we digress.

Concert-goers on the Imagination the weekend of December 6-9 will pay $600 each to rub elbows with Matchbox Twenty and, as announced yesterday, the group's special guests. That would be the Goo Goo Dolls, who aren't dolls at all but another well-known boy band (or man band). So that's $200 a night — plus taxes and gratuities — but it includes more than musical performances, autograph sessions, photo-ops and deck parties.

It also includes three nights in a "floating hotel" and three days of meals and a trip to the Bahamas. They can squeeze 2,634 people onto the Imagination, and this to see bands that once filled arenas many times that size. Will Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls fill it?

It's hard to "imagine" otherwise.

Holland America Statendam
7 nights
September 15, 2013
AnchorageGlacier Bay, Haines, JuneauKetchikanVancouver
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57

Norwegian…Egyptian winning jingle

When you’re No. 2 — or even No. 3 or No. 4 — you try harder. Norwegian Cruise Lines has plenty of experience, competing with bigger brands, all of which are part of cruise line consortiums…Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess and so on.

When you try harder, you try everything. Quality of products, quality of service. Partnering with people who can help, like travel agents.  Advertising campaigns.

Enter: Walk Like An Egyptian.

We’ve never heard confirmation of this, but it appears that NCL has capitalized on a fairly forgettable No. 1 song by a fairly forgettable No. 1 (briefly) band, The Bangles.

Enter: Cruise Like A Norwegian.

That’s the promotional campaign slogan NCL started using last year, coincidentally at a time when Walk Like An Egyptian was enjoying a revival during the revolution in Egypt. In 2011, Norwegian enjoyed a 37% increase in operating income and, according to CEO Kevin Sheehan: “The campaign has brought increased attention to our brand.”

Who would have ever connected those dots?

Holland America Statendam
14 nights
March 30
Fort Lauderdale, Aruba, Panama Canal, Puerto Caldera, Huatulco, Cabo San Lucas, San Diego
Inside $1,539

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