Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Amsterdam, currently under construction at Fincantieri shipyard, was floated out of its dry dock at Marghera, Italy, Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. The floating out — considered a significant milestone in the construction process — was prefaced by several traditional ceremonies.
Following the ancient practice of shipbuilders, two commemorative coins were sealed in a compartment in the traditional Coin-Under-the-Mast ceremony, believed to bring good fortune to a vessel.
“It is always a meaningful moment to bring a new ship along to this point in the building process,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line. “With the rich legacy of the name Nieuw Amsterdam, and this being the fourth ship in our 136-year history to carry this name, it is all the more significant for our company.”
The special coins used in the ceremony were minted to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of the river in New York that bears his name. In 1609, Hudson, an English explorer employed by the Dutch East India Company, sailed his ship Half Moon up that river. Hudson’s explorations eventually led to the first permanent Dutch settlement in North America — a tiny village on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, which was named Nieuw Amsterdam.
In recognition of that longstanding connection, several rooms on Nieuw Amsterdam will have New York City themes. The main restaurant is the Manhattan Dining Room, the atrium art is inspired by the city’s skyscrapers and the youth area will feature an authentic 1981 New York Checker cab.
After the blessing of the ship and the ceremonies, floodgates on the dry dock opened. As the dock began to fill, a bucket was lowered into the water and some of the first water to touch the ship's hull was captured and preserved in a crystal bottle that is presented to the captain during the ship’s official dedication.
Nieuw Amsterdam was towed to the fitting-out dock where she will be finished and delivered in early July 2010. Second in the Signature Class and sister ship to the ms Eurodam, she will carry 2,106 guests and 929 crew.