Below, Thomson Spirit, the former Nieuw Amsterdam of Holland America Line departs IJmuiden at the 30th of september 2013.
One of the finest cruiseliners of her day, Thomson Spirit was launched as Nieuw Amsterdam from the Chantiers de L'atlantique wharf at Saint-Nazaire, France, at the 20th of august 1982 for the Holland America Line. She was among the first generation of modern cruiseliners and basicly an enlarged version of the earlier Holland America cruiseliner Prinsendam. This small ship had been built in 1973 in Hardinxveld and was in fact the last Holland America Line ship that was constructed in The Netherlands. She had been very popular with cruises in Indonesia and Alaska but sadly burned and sank in 1980. The design for this ship had been based on the design of the 1950's-built Moore Mac-Cormack twins Argentina and Brasil, that were sailing for Holland America Line as Veendam and Volendam from the 1970's onwards. The new French built oceanliner measured 33.930 tons, is 214,66 meters long, 27,26 meters wide and her draft is 7,52 meters. Her passengercapacity on her ten decks is 1340. Those are cared for by 520 crewmembers. The ship sails at a moderate speed of 21 knots, provided by 2 Sulzer diesel engines driving 2 propellers. Holland America Line advertized their new ship as an ocean liner, because of the way the ship was designed and because of the service the company is providing. The ship was to be very up-market, without being truly luxurious. A little like the HAPAG-Lloyd ship Europa 2 of her day. The new Holland America Liner was designed with the Dutch West India Company in mind and decorated with artefacts, documents, weapons, statues, murals and paintings reflecting this. Her sister Noordam, joining her in the same iteneraries from 1984 onwards, was decorated in the theme of the Dutch East India Company, offering a decoration with Asian treasures.
The introduction of the new ocean liner wasn't exactly what you call smooth. Originally, it was planned that the ship would be delivered to Holland America Line at the 11th of may 1983, but because the fitting-out wasn't completed at that that time, this had to be postponed. Then, on june the 24th and one day before her planned naming, the main swichboard of the ship burned at Le Havre and the naming ceremony had to be cancelled, as well as the first cruise that was planned for the 26th of june to begin. Because all of the guests of honour and the rest of the passengers had already embarked to get familiar with the ship, they all had to leave and return home. Finally, the ship was named Nieuw Amsterdam by the Dutch Princess Margriet on the 10th of july 1983, before leaving on her newly planned first voyage from Le Havre to New York. Nieuw Amsterdam was the name for the former Dutch colony that became New York later on, and of course it was the name of the 1938-built flagship of the line, that is mostly called upon as the most beautifull oceanliner ever built.
At first, only one ship was to be built with the option of a second one, but Holland America anticipated that the ship would be very popular and also because the 1950's-built Veendam and Volendam were going to leave the fleet, this option was materialized as the Noordam. As a pair, these ships took Holland America Line into the 1980's. And these ships would be the last ships ordered for the original Holland America Line, as the company was taken over by Carnival Cruise Lines in 1988.
Built especially for North-American service, the first voyage to New York of the new Nieuw Amsterdam was followed by a scedule of winter cruising in the Caribbean and summer cruising in Alaska from Vancouver. She kept sailing this scedule of cruises throughout the 1980's, it was only in the beginning of the 1990's that she undertook more varied cruises that took her to more destinations worldwide. This could be done, because the fleet of Holland America was enlarged soon after the Carnival take-over. In 1999, the ship was becoming outdated in comparissement with the newer ships of the line, so she was sold to American Classic Cruises for delivery from 2000 onwards. Her last cruise for HAL finished in Vancouver at the 24th of august of the year 2000.
In the fall of 2000, the ship started cruising around Hawaii under the new name of Patriot under the banner of the United States Lines. The name of this former transatlantic company was revived under ownership of American Classic Cruises and it was some sort of forerunner of the initiative from Norwegian Cruise Line, called NCL America. NCL took over the newbuilds from the American company that was facing bankrupcy one year after they started operations. The operation was started up in the first place to restart passengership construction in the USA. The newbuilds were built at wharfes in the USA and also would be registered in the United States. Also Patriot had been sailing under the flag of the US with her homeport being Honolulu. Patriot had the honour to be the first passengerliner under the US-flag since 1958. Holland America bought the ship back after she had been laid-up in the fall of 2001, and she got back her former HAL name Nieuw Amsterdam at the 27th of january of 2002.
The ship did not re-enter HAL service though, she was kept in lay-up First at Honolulu, later she was repositioned to Charleston. A few months later, in may, she sailed for Perama in Greece after Holland America had chartered her out to Louis Cruise Lines from Cyprus. She sailed as Spirit ans was rebuilt untill may 2003. From then on, Louis had her sub-chartered to Thomson Cruises and her name was changed to Thomson Spirit. She started sailing mostly Mediterranean cruises in northern summer and cruises in the Red Sea in northern winter. From 2012 onwards, the ship also sails cruises in northern Europe during summerseasons.