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NYC maiden call part of historic Rotterdam cruise, service dog sails into elite status

Rotterdam arrives at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal
Holland America Line’s Rotterdam made its maiden call at New York City Wednesday following a trans-Atlantic crossing commemorating the company's maiden voyage 150 years ago.

The ship departed its namesake city in the Netherlands Oct. 15 on a 15-day cruise that is recreating the maiden voyage of Holland America's first ship — Rotterdam I — that departed Rotterdam 150 years ago on Oct. 15, 1872.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine officially declared Oct. 26 an 'honorary day' for Holland America Line to recognize the occasion and the contributions of the company to Manhattan throughout its 150 years.

Specially commissioned musical piece

An evening event aboard the ship for invited guests features the performance of a musical piece by Emmy Award-winning producer and Emmy-nominated composer Steven Schoenberg, written exclusively for HAL's anniversary to accompany a special short film about the cruise line’s journey. The composition will be performed by a 25-piece ensemble of musicians who formerly played on the line's Lincoln Center Stage.

Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation partnership

In addition, Holland America will introduce a partnership with the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation commemorating the line's journey from immigrant carrier to vacation provider. The partnership features onboard video content across the fleet produced by an Ellis Island researcher, as well as a curated exhibit launching in 2023 at Ellis Island detailing the brand’s historical prominence in bringing one in 10 immigrants from Europe to the US.

'We are excited to be celebrating our 150th anniversary in such a vibrant city with our newest ship on a rare overnight call,' HAL President Gus Antorcha said. 'There’s nothing like sailing into New York under the Verrazano Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Standing on deck, you can’t help but think back to more than a century ago, feeling the emotion of arriving in America for the first time. Recreating our first voyage has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.'

Menus, events and HAL Pils

During the crossing, passengers indulged in menus showcasing Holland America history with entrées each evening reminiscent of dishes served as early as the 1920s.

Special programming also included a 'Throwback Happy Hour' that rolled back time with drinks priced as low as 25 cents, Dutch High Tea, presentations that relived the history and roots of the company and anniversary-themed trivia. And the line introduced HAL Pils in a commemorative can.

Service dog sails into elite status

As part of the New York call, Joska the service dog was recognized at a special ceremony for reaching 700 cruise days during the Rotterdam crossing, making her eligible to receive the Platinum Medallion, HAL's highest past-guest award for cruising days.


The Marinussens and Joska

Joska, a 10-year-old black Labrador retriever, cruises with her owners, Cornelia 'Connie' and Cornelis Marinussen, who previously received their Platinum Medallions.

At the ceremony, Antorcha and Rotterdam Capt. Werner Timmers presented Joska with her Platinum Medallion, 5-Star Mariner status (highest level) in the cruise line’s loyalty program and a selection of dog-friendly, Holland America-branded gifts.

Registered service animals always welcome

'Registered service animals are always welcome aboard Holland America Line ships, and Joska has become a member of our family. She not only brightens the spirits of everyone onboard, but she also allows Connie to do what she loves most, which is to cruise and explore the world,' Antorcha said.

The Marinussens have been frequenting Holland America Line since 2013 and have taken nearly 60 cruises. From Alaska, Hawaii and Canada to Europe, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, Joska has sailed on more than 50 HAL voyages since joining the Marinussen family in 2014 to assist Cornelia, who is legally blind.

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