Queen Maxima of the Netherlands was in Rotterdam’s Wilhelmina Port this week to name a new cruise ship after her husband, King Willem-Alexander. The ms Koningsdam is a new cruise ship for the Holland America line and can accommodate 2000 passengers and 1,000 crew. The crew watched as the Queen baptised the ship by pouring a glass of wine over the ship’s bell on the Lido deck. She then smashed a bottle of champagne against the side of the ship, by pulling on a decorative rope inside. “May God bless this ship and all its crew” she said as she tugged on the rope.
The ship was built in Italy by the shipbuilder Fincantieri, and her maiden voyage will be heading towards Norway and the Land of the Midnight Sun, before heading for the Mediterranean Sea in the autumn. This is not the first time the Queen has had the pleasure of naming one of the Holland America line ships. In 2010, she also named the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. This was the fourth ship of the line to bear that name and a lot of the décor reflected the skyline of New York which was formerly known as New Amsterdam.
Argentine born Queen Maxima would be well placed for a discussion with the multi-national crew of the cruise ship. She can speak Spanish (her native tongue) and English, as well as conversational French. Since marrying the then Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in 2002, she has also become fluent in Dutch. In addition to official engagements such as this, she has also worked a lot in the field of immigrants especially women and has been very keen to stress the importance of them learning the Dutch language so that they too can integrate into Dutch society.
Holland America Line itself, originated in the 1870’s, and in its first twenty-five years of service took over 400,000 people from Europe to the America’s to start a new life over there. The first cruise for passengers was in 1895, a second in 1910 took passengers from New York to Palestine. It is now part of the Carnival Corporation.