When Carnival Corporation took over the name and ships of the Holland America Line in early 1989, a class of four ships was immidiately ordered to reflect their commitment to the modernisation of the old Dutch brand. These ships were introduced as the 'S'-class, because originally, they would be recieving names starting with the letter 'S', Statendam, Schiedam and Stellendam. Later, this was changed although the name 'S'-class is still used. They became Statendam (1992), Maasdam (1993), Ryndam (1993) and Veendam (1996). With 55.000 tons, the ships were the largest ever ordered for the company, but still in the middle-segment as the Holland America Line passengers was not ready for larger ships. Gradually, the size was increased in the 'R'-class of 60.000 tons, that followed close behind and again consisted out of four ships. The 1996-built Rotterdam was the first, followed by Volendam in 1999 and Zaandam and Amsterdam in 2000.
The older ships left the fleet around the same time and the first to go was the 1959-built splendid former oceanliner Rotterdam in 1997 to make the name free for the new flagship, followed by the Nieuw Amsterdam of 1982 that was sold to American Classic Voyages in 2000. In that year, Carnival also announced that a new class of ships was going to be built for HAL, the largest untill then with a tonnage around 80.000. It was said that the ships, although huge for HAL standards, would still have the classic touches that the company was known for, but then also become a little more modern to attract a wider croud. The name of the class was 'Vista'-class and the ships were going to be named after the points of the compass to honour all the regions the company sails in. This of course also meant that the ships that were already named after those point had to be sold or transferred to make room for the names. Because of this, Westerdam was transferred to Costa Cruises in 2002 and Noordam was chartered out to Thomson Holidays from 2004 onwards.
Below, the fourth Noordam enters her berth at the Rotterdam cruise terminal for the first time, after her overhaul at the Blohm & Voss yards at Hamburg. This picture is dated the 14th of july 2010.
Construction and general statistics
Noordam was built as the fourth ship in the class and had been ordered from the Marghera yards of Fincantieri, Italy where she was built as yardnumber 6079. The ships she followed in the class were Zuiderdam (2002), Oosterdam (2003) and Westerdam (2004). With a tonnage measurement of 82.318, the ship is just slightly bigger than her earlier sisters. She has a lenght of 285,30 meters, is 32,20 meters wide and has a draught of 7,80 meters. On her 11 passengerdecks out of a total of 15, some 2272 passengers can be sailing her at a maximum, or 1916 based on two-per-cabin. Also, 842 crewmembers can be accomodated. Her normal service speed is 22 knots, although her maximum is said to be 24 knots. She is, like most modern giants, propulsed by two ABB Azipods which are powered by a CODAG arrangement of 3 16-cylinder diesel-electric generators and 2 12-cylinder diesel-electric generators, besides one gas turbine. The enginerooms are very large, as they are placed on the two lowest decks of the ship and almost are consuming those whole of those. Traditionally, the ships of the Holland America Line are registered in The Netherlands and their homeport is Rotterdam. With Noordam, this is no different.
It is the fourth time that the name Noordam was used by the line. The first Noordam was a 12.500-ton liner delivered in 1902 and she sailed untill 1928 for the line, when she was chartered out to Swedish American Line as Kungsholm untill 1926. She was in fact the largest ship of the HAL when she was introduced. The second Noordam was smaller, measuring 10.700-tons and she was build in 1938. She was a combinationliner, built for freight but also she had accomodations for 125 passengers. This ship sailed untill 1963 when she was sold to Italy and finally scrapped in 1967. The thirth Noordam finally, was the last ship built for the original HAL, before the sale of the passengerdivision to Carnival. She was a true cruiseship of 34.000 tons and she was introduced in 1984. As said earlier, this ship left the fleet in 2004 to free the name for the newest Noordam, that was delivered to Holland America Line at the 30th of january of 2006.
The blueprints of the four Vista-class ships were based on the design of the Spirit-class of ships that had been built for Costa Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines starting with the Costa Atlantica from 1999. Furthermore, a ship originally planned for Holland America Line was transferred to Cunard Line to become their Queen Victoria, although Cunard then decided that they needed a bigger one so they transferred the ship then to P&O as their fourth Arcadia. There was a larger Queen Victoria built on the Vista-class design and this ship was then followed by another one, Queen Elizabeth. Costa Cruises also liked the design so much, that they created the Costa Luminosa and Costa Deliziosa as a combination between the Vista-class and the Spirit-class. Meanwhile, Holland America introduced two larger versions of the Vista-class, also topped by two funnels. Those became Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam. And last but not least, also the Koningsdam and her still to be introduced sister Nieuw Statendam are larger and also built out of the same blueprints. But they had lost the two-funnel lay-out.
The most striking and visible design feature of the Vista-class ships is the fact that they are topped by two working funnels. This is not just because it looks nice, but because the ship was designed with two seperate enginerooms for which seperate exhausts were installed. The main reason was that the ships were also designed to sail in Alaska, where the environmental laws are very strict due to the natural beauty of the landscape. Because of the large amount of environmentalfriendly machinery that was built in two propell the ship, it had to be spread out over two enginerooms. The gasgenerator and the two 12-cylinder engines were located in the forward engineroom, the three 16-cylinder engines in the aft engineroom. This placing meant that the Vista-class was the first class of ships with two funnels again since the Italian Raffaelo and Michelangelo that had been built in 1965. Next to that, the Vista-class ships also have a lot of glass in their exteriours, another reason for the classname. The size of the ships was based on the wideness of the Panama-canal, making these ships about the largest ones that can sail through. This of course, was changed when the plans to widen the canal were carried out. A change from her earlier sisters was that the aftdecks were not stepped back but more steep to create more room for the cabins at the aft end of the ship. This spoiled the look a little in comparissement with the other Vista's, but not for long as also they were later upgraded by the steeper aft-decks.
The interiour design of the ship was carried out by Frans Dingemans of the Utrecht-based company VFD. This company has been the house-designer of the HAL ships up untill the 2010-built Nieuw Amsterdam. The designer created a very open style, more modern and light then aboard the earlier ships because with those larger ships, the company had to attract more passengers aside from the classic, traditional passenger that they had always served. That said, the Noordam and her sister still kept the classic touches so also those would like to sail the new vessels. So the teak wraparound promenadedeck was retained, just like the names that had been used for decades for the bars, lounges and restaurants.
Like all Holland America Line ships, she also is a floating museum. One of the centerpieces is a large painting of the Dutch city of Utrecht, that had been created in 1842. She also has more contemporary art aboard though, like a series of photographs of Dizzy Gillespie and BB King.
The ship is the first within the fleet in which the Signature of Excellence program was totally incorporated. This program was a total upgrade of all the ships within the fleet and it meant that all cabins recieved new matrasses, as well as a DVD-player and flatscreen TV. Of the ships cabins, some 85% have oceanviews and 67% have private verandas. There were also more dining options and a Culinairy Arts Center sponsored by Wine & Foods magazine where cookinglessons were held so guests were able to make a decent meal themselves when returning home. Also the Greenhouse Spa and Salon were larger and offered more options then before.
After delivery, the ship sailed for New York from Venice at the 3rd of february of 2006 to be named by the 1965-born Marlee Beth Matlin on the 22nd of february. Matlin is an actress, who has been deaf since she had the age of 18 months. She performed in movies like 'Children of a lesser god'(1986), 'Hear no evil' (1993) and Excition (2012). She also performed in several television series. Directly after the ceremony, the ship started her first true maiden voyage, a ten day Caribbean cruise. She then settled in for a season of 10- and 11-day Caribbean cruises from New York.
In july 2010, Noordam came over for a ten day overhaul at the Blohm & Voss-wharf in Hamburg, before sailing her first Northern European cruise. Originally, it was planned to use her as an accomodationship during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, but due to overcapacity there she was directed to Hamburg for her overhaul. The day after she left Hamburg, she sailed for Bremerhaven where she arrived at the 12th of july to start the cruise. Sadly, a tragic accident occured when a diver who was supposed to free the ship from some fishingnets at her props lost contact with the people on shore. A rescueoperation was put into action, but in the strong currents of the river Weser the man was not found. Noordam's cruise started though, and she sailed for her homeport Rotterdam for the first time. Her arrival in early morning of the 14th of july did not bring many spectators out to bring her in, sadly, because it was a beautiful summermorning. Also, no spraying tugboats were there to accompany the ship to her berth.
At june the 10th, 2015, Noordam was on a seven day Alaska cruise when she responded to a distress call from the sightseeingboat Baranof Wind close to Jaw Point at Glacier Bay. The boat had experienced mechanical troubles and Noordam was able to take her 41 passengers and crew aboard. They recieved lunch on board and were brought to Bartlett Cove, from which the excursion originated. After they were landed, Noordam set course for her next destination, Ketchikan. Holland America Line had been friendly towards the Baranof Wind earlier, as the ship had suffered mechanical problems close to John Hopkins Glacier and her 103 passengers had been assisted by Statendam at the 2nd of august of 2013.