Veendam is a small town in the Dutch province of Groningen, in the northern part of the country. When you are searching for a connection to Holland America Line or the sea, you'd guess it's just the dam-name... Well, except for a well known Dutch shipowner that was born here, mister Egbert Wagenborg, whose ships are still sailing mostly coastal and inland waterways under his name since 1898.
Below, Veendam passes the village of Velsen Noord during her transit of the Northsea Canal after her first visit to Amsterdam at the 30th and 31st of july, 2013. Below the bridge, you can spot the four flags that Holland America used in its 140-year history.
So Veendam was chosen as a name for a Holland America ship because of the name only. The first time this name was used was in 1888 and this first Veendam sailed untill 1898. The second time the name was used took a while, this ship was built in 1923 and sailed untill 1953. The thirth Veendam was a former Moore-McCormack liner that was bought in 1973, this time she was only used as a cruiseliner untill 1984, when the modern twins Noordam and Nieuw Amsterdam were taken into service.
In january 1996, the fourth Veendam entered service as part of the so-called 'S'-class, that started in 1992 with Statendam. Maasdam followed in 1993, then Ryndam in 1994. Originally, only three ships were planned with names all starting with an 'S', but a fourth ship was later added and the names changed. Like her sisters, Veendam was built at the wharves of Fincantieri in Italy. She has now a tonnage of 57.092, a lenght of 219 meters and she is 31 meters wide. She can sail at 22 knots with around 1350 passengers on a two per cabin basis (1627 total) and 580 crew. She was named by actress Debbie Reynolds, but because there were not enough Dutch officers available, the ship was registered at Bermuda instead of The Netherlands, like the other ships of the line. The ship mostly sailed cruises in Alaska, before being replaced to South America. From this year onwards, she was stationed in Boston for cruises in ew England, Canada and the North Atlantic. Maasdam was because of this placed in the South American services. From Boston, Veendam also crossed the Atlantic towards Europe, calling at Amsterdam for the first time during a two day stay at the end of july of this year.
During her stay in Amsterdam at the 31st of july 2013, Veendam had the company of the Celebrity Constellation at the terminal. When Veendam left, a horn-battle broke out, presumably won by the Holland America liner...
The style of the ship is very traditional Holland America-ish, with a large $ 2 million art and antique-collection aboard, mostly inspired by flowers so very Dutch. There are classic style paintings of flowers at the walls and ceilings, like those in the Piano bar. Also, the ship has a rare collection of Japanese Tosei Gusoku samurai weapons on display and in the central atrium, the passengers can be overwhelmed by a statue of three decks in height. A Holland America tradition is also the Explorations Café, a space that is sponsored by the New York Times. The library at the café is said to be the largest library at sea, computers with internet connection and the possibility for listening to music. The decks outside are of course made of teak, not just painted astroturf in greens and blues...
In the summer of 2006, the captain of Veendam, Albert Schoonenbeek, found back the top of the radarmast of the companies former flagship Rotterdam (1959) in Ketchikan, Alaska. Rotterdam had to loose the masttop years back in 1981 to pass under electric wires and later the mast was given as a present to the town's mayor. It was planned to use the top as a flagpole on the pier. Schoonderbeek found the mast back, crated it in and brought in onshore on the 14th of april 2007, when the Veendam docked at Barcelona. From here, it was offered to the ss Rotterdam BV, the company preserving the ship at Rotterdam.
In april 2009, now sailing under the Dutch flag with her homeport Rotterdam, Veendam was rebuilt at the stern at Freeport on the Bahamas, recieving extra cabins on her former aft decks, topped by a new pooldeck. This addition was truly dissappointing for shipgeeks, as her appearance was drasticly changed because of this. Several of the new cabins, called Lanai cabins, have large glass doors that open to the promenade deck. Of course, all this extra weight on her back caused changes in het stability, and this was overcome by adding a ducktail under her stern.
At the 25th of january 2015, the ship was involved in a rather unusual rescue-mission, when a pilot who'se single-engine plane had crashed was rescued, after he had suffered a mechanical issue with the fuel-system close to Hawaii in mid-Pacific. His plane, a Cirrus SR-22, had crashed into the sea and together with the US Coast Guard, the Veendam crew was able to get him safely aboard. The man was given food and accomodation and left the ship the following day, when Veendam continued her 18-day circle Hawaii cruise. At the 2016-event of the Lloyds List North American Maritime Awards, the captain and crew of Veendam were later named 'Seafarer Of The Year' because of this incident.
Below, the new aft-decks of Veendam are shown, looking very odd because of the overhanging of the stern of the ship. It is certainly not the most appealing addition a cruiseliner ever recieved...
From the 22nd of december 2017 onwards, Veendam will begin a series of 12-night cruises to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, joining a growing fleet of American-owned ships that now call in at the Caribbean island. This is now possible, because of the lifting of the American ban for trades with Cuba.