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We Thought We Knew HAL - The Naming/Dedication of the ms Noordam

S

sail7seas

Guest
#1
I have posted these thoughts elsewhere, but because of our friends here and interest, I'll continue to post a series of messages about our experience. in both places.

I'm still trying to process all we saw/did/experienced. We LOVED every single moment of it.

Here is Part I :


DH and I have cruised a great many times with HAL and anyone who comes here often knows how much we love the 'dam' ships and crews of Holland America Line.....and we really thought we knew 'the company'. After you cruise over 40 times with the same cruiseline, you get a feeling of "I pretty much know this company. " Sure...but we only knew one part of the company though, of course, it's the one that directly impacts us...the experience upon the ships.

I have spoken here that we were (unbelievably and very, very happily for us ) asked to be Mariners' Amabassadors for the ms Noordam.

Our participation in the Dedication of this magnificent ship began with our visiting the ship last Friday when she was in Boston.

We were met in the terminal by Director of the Mariner Society, Margaret Binnendyk, and were immediately taken with her warmth and friendliness and knew in the blink of an eye we were with a hugely capable, so experienced and remarkable woman.....who is also beautiful into the bargain!!

We went directly aboard and started to explore the ship. I'll talk about our observations and the things on/in the ship that wowed and awed us but I really want to share with you something about the people of Holland America few of us have the honor and pleasure and delight to meet.

We had been told that as Mariners Ambassadors, a table 'assignment' had been arranged for us and that we would be dining with Mr. Stein Kruse and his (really and truly) lovely wife, Linda. (My husband , with the deepest of respect, says she is a cross between gorgeous and gorgeous in looks, but just as gorgeous as a down to earth, friendly person.). Mr. Kruse is the President and Chief Executive Officer of HAL. Us?? ...we're dining with the President of HAL??!!! Margaret Bennendyk and Marion Carey (who some of you may know from her work at Port Everglades) and another pair of Mariners who we had met on a Volendam cruise we took in October, (HAL was aware we knew this couple) completed our table.

The very moment we met Stein and Linda Kruse (as they immediately asked us to call them), we were amazed at how natural and friendly and down to earth. Their smiles are wide and they share them often. We thought we were sitting down to dinner 'with new friends' and I have to add........it could have been an intimidating experience with others who might not have been as immensely friendly and welcoming. (Three times I addressed 'Stein" as Mr. Kruse and after he asked me to call him Stein each time, well......I finally did!! ) While we have dined often with many Captains and Hotel Managers, but lets face it.....this was the Captain's Big Boss, if you will. Not many Mariners are so lucky to have this opportunity. I felt I could have asked him just about anything; I could have raised any situation that I questioned about how things are done aboard the ships and I would have received a respectful response. Maybe the information may have been something he wasn't free to share, and we can all understand that, but I never felt as though I 'had to watch every word' I spoke.

I'll talk about various menus etc later but really want this section to begin to describe 'the people of HAL' we met and the immediate respect (and fondness) we feel for them.

We now understand, after all the years of cruising HAL, why HAL is the incredible cruiseline we think it to be. The people who 'run' HAL ( we met a large number of the Vice Presidents in Charge of 'you name the department, the senior-presidents, the directors of various departments) ....without exception, EVERY ONE of them were gracious and friendly and welcoming to us. If we passed them out and about the ship, they always stopped for a quick hello, remembered us by name....wanted to be sure we were happy and enjoying.....

Does this sound to you a lot like what we find on the ships? We all know the friendliness of the crews on the ships. Here is the friendliness from those in Seattle. This is genuine; it's part of the company culture; they care deeply about their work and the product they produce and ultimately sell to us.

You may have gathered by now, they will continue to keep selling it to us....let there be no doubt if we loved HAL before this incredible experience....a team of wild horses couldn't drag us elsewhere.

I shared stories with a few about our experiences on other cruiselines . If they weren't intereted in hearing our comparisons, they 'sure faked it well'.

More about the Party HAL ran Friday Night in Boston on ms Noordam......

Every bar on the ship was open. Hot hors d'ouerves passed tray after tray after tray. Laughing and dancing and music and big hello's when a guest would run across a crew friend they didn't know was aboard. We met up with easily a dozen or more stewards or cruise staff members and Maitre d' Wawan....grabbed us both in the biggest bear hug and we felt like family. But, that is what I've been trying to say here.....

We feel like family to HAL and more so now than ever....and for many years already, many who wear HAL uniforms have been extended family to us.....family we choose!!!!

More to come in Part II (very soon)
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P

purplenorway

Guest
#2
I loved reading this; thanks for posting! Sounds like you had a great time! It is nice to know how nice the management is, and I agree, the crew is unbeatable!
 
C

Cruzman

Guest
#3
Hey Sail; wasn't there, but I ain't surprised at your experience! Can't wait to read volume II.
 
S

sail7seas

Guest
#4
Here's another installment:


Part II

Because we experienced one wonderful thing after another during a relatively short period of time, my mind is still whirling with sorting all of the memories.

I really want to share it all with every Mariner. All Mariners were there in spirit as 'that was the point' of having Mariners' Ambassadors. HAL could not possibly have the roughly 4.5 million Mariners attend the events but a large part of this celebration of Noordam was about the Mariners. Many of the times I would thank a particular person for something they did or said, they almost always said Thank you to the Mariners.....Without those who cruise on our ship, what do we have?? Take my word for it. They DO NOT take us for granted. They appreciate our bookings. They especially appreciate when we return again and again. (for obvious reasons!!! )

We left Boston for on a short flight to Newark. (It is close to equal distance to the Passenger Ship Terminal, I am told, from either LaGuardia or Newark---but often less traffic getting to the docks from Newark.).

The moment we descended the escalator to Baggage Claim, we saw the familiar HAL Uniform with our names on her 'clipboard'. They had sent this lovely woman to meet us and she had a car and driver waiting to take us to Noordam.

As we neared (and got a first glimpse of) Noordam, my heart skipped a beat with excitement.

Waiting on the curb was a gentleman who greeted us immediately and took our suitcase and smoothed our way through the terminal and quickly to the gangway.

At this point, I really was feeling like an Ambassador. I could get very used to this sort of attention.

Little did we know, it had only just begun.

We had met the Hotel Manager of Noordam, Stan Kuppens, in the past and we renewed our acquaintance when we saw him on Noordam in Boston. He happened (?) to be at the gangway just as we crossed onto the ship. Quickly grabbed our bag and I said, Stan......you don't carry our luggage. He quickly said but you are the Ambassadors.....I quickly added BUT YOU ARE THE HOTEL MANAGER!!! Like magic, a steward appeared and took care of the weighty suitcase. (No one has ever accused me of traveling light!!)

They quickly brought us to our cabin. Once again....such thoughtfulness and attention to detail by our hosts. If there are better hosts than HAL somewhere in the world, I've yet to meet them. We have never stayed on an HAL ship in other than an "S" Suite and that is where we spent our night on 'our' Noordam. When Mr. Kuppens entered with us and said Welcome Home.....the first tears of others that would follow misted my eyes.

We washed our hands and quickly unpacked. Now we were off to explore more of the ship.

We absolutely love Lido Pool. The furniture, colors, Dolphin Bar......Love the stools. The tables and chairs are the newer style that is appearing on all the ships now. Gone are the plain white, blah looking tables. Now it's the far more attractive wood-grain look with the rattan looking chairs.

Into Lido we go and we stopped to really look around. Immediately entering from the Dolphin Bar side, is a slightly raised seating area (like on ZUDM) with fabulous relatively high back chairs. On the chair backs, are painted a fascinating Asian design. All of the seats in Lido we found to be particularly comfortable. Colors include sort of a burgundy with yellowy gold.....very pretty, I think.

The lamps on the section dividers of the seating areas are eye-catchingly handsome IMO.

Lunch.....Remember-- There are not yet passengers aboard. Today is Mariner Day and I think there was a small number TA's and perhaps some writers/editor types for various travel magazines and such.

Every section of Lido was open and offering luscious choices, as always. We had a nice lunch and continued our 'look-about'. Of course, like all her sisters, Noordam has the various stations which are so convenient. Salad Bar, Sandwich, stir fry, pasta etc

We went through the rear of Lido to Aft Pool. Big changes here. The deck is larger as it has been extended with the adding of more cabins on the decks below. There is an awning built on the starboard side ----maybe port, as well, but I'm not sure. Under this permanent awning, are tables and chairs set out very attractively. Much nicer than the older arrangement. Many folks want shade and this is a great section for people to enjoy being outside and at the pool and still be comfortably sheltered from sun.

Loads lounges are set up with most of them at the very stern.....behind the pool. (Maybe they were set this way just for the Inaugural Parties and such and will be moved during 'real cruises'.)

We were told we would be needed in the Vista Lounge for a Rehearsal of the Dedication Ceremony.

Down we went...certainly didn't want to be late!!!

More in the next section.
 
S

sage

Guest
#5
Sail,

I'm so glad that you had such a wonderful time on the Noordam. I'm looking forward to your next installaion.
 
L

LandLockedInAZ

Guest
#7
Sail, I'm really enjoying reading your review. How lucky you are! I can only dream of such wonderful occasions as you have experienced!
I believe it is true that service is modeled from the top down and your report certainly shows this to be true!
One thing I'm confused about, and it's probably because I haven't been keeping up on the inaugural of this ship, but why did you first tour the ship in Boston and then have to fly to Newark? How much time passed between your initial tour and boarding the ship for your cruise?
Looking forward to the next installment!
 
S

sail7seas

Guest
#8
The ship came directly from Fincantieri ....the boatyard where she was built in Italy.....to Boston. We live in Boston. HAL invited Mariners from the Boston area to come aboard for dinner on Friday Night and they put on a wonderful party. We had a fabulous time but had to disembark at the end of the evening.

The ship left Boston and sailed to New York on Sunday. We flew in Tuesday morning to join the ship. We overnighted on board and then the Dedication Ceremony was Wednesday. After the Ceremony, we again had to leave the ship as she left for her Maiden Voyage and we were not booked for that cruise.

These parties were to celebrate the brand new, gorgeous Noordam joining HAL's fleet. HAL was able to introduce her to Mariners and Travel Agents who lived in the Boston area and others who live in the New York area.

We are the Mariner's Ambassadors for the ship but were not booked for her first cruise.
 
L

LandLockedInAZ

Guest
#10
Thanks for clarifying! I'm sure it was painful to have to get off after such a short period of time!
 
C

CruisinTex

Guest
#11
Thank you, Sail, for taking us along with you. It sounds wonderful. BUT.........

Where is the next installment??????? We're all here hanging on and waiting!!! :lol
 
S

sail7seas

Guest
#12
HI Tex.....

There didn't seem to be much interest here so I stopped posting the Installments. I have posted them elsewhere and can bring them over here, if you wish.
 
S

sail7seas

Guest
#13
5,000+ Club Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 8,736



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Part III

What excitement.....We arrived at the Vista Lounge for the first rehearsal in which we would participate. There had been others before we arrived. Imagine our amazement to find Bill Prince directing. Now I really needed to be pinched. I was so gratefull to Margaret Binnendyk who 'kept us cool'. She was so wonderful to us. Anything/everything one could possibly want for....she had already thought of it. She kept us on an 'even keel'.

Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and we were introduced to all present. What a joy!! Marlee Matlin was there and what fun to meet her. We have such high regard for her work, particularly in Children of a Lesser God.

We listened as Stein Kruse spoke from the stage of the wonderful ties between Holland America Line and the City of New York. We were so very interested to hear the history shared between the two including how Holland America Line ships carried Immigrants to New York. How Holland America used to have it's headquarters in New York. How New York was the embarkation port for the first HAL World Cruise.

He then spoke of the fact the Noordam we were Dedicating is the fourth Noordam to be a part of HAL's fleet.

Captain John Scott was the last Captain on the previous Noordam and is the first Captain for the new Noordam.

Captain Scott spoke of Noordam being the fourth of the Vista ships and, of course, is named for the fourth direction of the compass.

And then, as he continued speaking, we heard him say how many traditions of excellence have emerged throughout HAL's history and one of them is the recognition of past guests.....the Mariners Society. My excitement was building as this had to be where we would enter into the Dedication Ceremony. Just imagine how exciting it was when we first heard him introduce us in this rehearsal as the Mariners who would represent all of the Mariners.

Now we were on the Stage!!! Imagine!!! Us???
The beautiful bell was rolled onto the stage by four sailors. I got teary just watching that. The sailors stood behind us and the bell during the Blessing of the Bell and it was very moving IMO

A lady officer stood by us with a tray containing three flutes of champagne. We each removed one from the tray and held it.

We stood with Captain Scott and for the first time, recited with him the Blessing of the Bell.


We bless the bell of the ms Noordam
as an extension of this vessel.

We wish upon the Noordam
Fair winds and a following sea.

We wish safety for her operation....
Wisdom for her Officers...
Good health to her crew...
And comfort for her guests.

At the completion of the Blessing , we poured our glasses of champagne over the bell. It was wonderful. After the Blessing and champagne, I was presented with a lovely flower for the rehearsal. BUT, HAL being HAL....no plastic flowers here. Though it was rehearsal and not for real (if you will), still they had a lovely white rose for me. (Another of my favorite things about HAL, just about anyone who knows me on the ships knows, is the flowers!!!)

We took our seats and Marlee Matlin was introduced and came on the stage. She signed a wonderful speech and it was read aloud for her by her Interpreter.

I'm going to save 'what happened next' for tomorrow.

A happy tiredness is telling me it's time to 'call it a night'.

Part IV tomorrow.
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T

tw1nk1es

Guest
#14
Sail ! My Goodness!
I keep popping from one board to the other, looking for the next installment! Do tell!
 
C

CruisinTex

Guest
#15
Thanks, S7S. I found where you posted the rest of the installments. I, too, am popping from one board to another! Fabulous, Sail, just fabulous. You and Mr. Sail sound like two children on Christmas morning, you can't believe all the goodies Santa brought...and keeps on bringing! Thank you very much for taking us along with you.
 
S

sail7seas

Guest
#16
I am so happy many seem to be enjoying this thread and that is great. For us, it was about being Mariners.....all of us (or most reading this board) are Mariners. If one Mariner was a part of it than ALL were.

But, before I continue on, I have something on my mind I wish to say.


I have re-read through all I have written here (and my husand read it with me last night for the first time. He never comes to CC, doesn't know how to find the page, let alone post). After reading it all, I saw a few things I wished I had worded differently. In some places I sounded like we thought we were pretty 'full of ourselves'. In another place, I expressed something very, very poorly. It came out sounding very different than anything I would have intended. It could easily have been mis-read and some could have found it disrespectful and discourteous. I am very sorry for my poor wording and wish to apologize most sincerely to anyone who thought I was getting 'a big head'.

We are, as I have said several times, an ordinary couple from Massachusetts who love HAL and that love comes from loving the people of HAL....the people on the ships and from the ships. What we experienced this week is extraordinary and the memories of a lifetime. But it all emerged from our loving and respecting the people and the ships that we go to as often as possible.

To quote (just this once, if I may) another of our regular posters on this Board..........."Thanks for listening".


(I'll be back later with the rest of the story. We're expecting snow and I need to pickup a few things.)
 
S

sail7seas

Guest
#17
Our Excitement and Joy continues:

Part IV


Marlee Matlin's comments included mention of the fact that Holland America Line ships brought more immigrants to the new world than any other line. She told of her Grandmother who sailed from Poland to America in 1929. She then commented that Noordam would sail shortly on her Maiden Voyage carrying guests who would experience other cultures, new people....how this travel promotes understanding and enriches communication. She, of course, made reference that she knows first hand how important it is to transcend communication barriers.

I have failed to previously mention that videos were running of the outside of the ship........where the champagne bottle would be broken.

They had rigged a 'plunger pad' that Marlee would push. That would release the bottle outside the ship and the video would show it to all in the Vista Lounge as it hit the side of the ship.

BUT....before we were to see that....

The banner covering the ship's name was removed and we saw the ms NOORDAM on the huge video screen...the ship has now been named!!!

We sat in awe as Stein asked us to participate in a traditional New York Countdown.....a New Years Eve type countdown. They had installed a tall pole at the foot of the stage extension that comes forward toward the seats. Attached to the top of this pole was a Huge Ball reminiscent of a Times Square type Ball and it slowly made it's way down pole. At the end of the countdown, this beautiful, fully lit ball had made its descent, the band was playing.......

And we looked to see the 'lift' in the center of the stage had lowered, over a dozen of the ship's officers had stepped onto the lift and they were raised to be standing behind Marlee, Stein and the Captain.

At this point, pyrotechnics shot out and confetti flew and the excitement was overwhelming.....

And this was only the REHEARSAL.


We were speechless. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.

At this point, we all left the lounge, our rehearsal was over and DH and I wanted to roam about the ship and see as much as we could.

The art, the Stephen Card paintings are so fantastic, as always!!!!
Everywhere we looked, there was an antique ship's model, a object d'arte of one sort or another, I particularly love a black lacquer chest that reminds me of another like it on VODM. It is located in a large glass case on the way to the dining room. I was compelled to stand and stare at it.
And the Flowers!!!! Oh how beautiful the flowers all over the ship as per HAL's glorious tradition.

So...speaking of Stephen Card.....

Were we in for a wonderful surprise (like we hadn't had so many already!!!)

After our stroll around the ship, we stopped at Ocean Bar for a glass of wine. Remember....every bar on this ship was open for anything/everything anyone desired. The group aboard at this point was mostly TA's and they were a pleasant, friendly group. We chatted with a few and relaxed and savored every moment aboard.
My husband glanced over my shoulder and said......Isn't that Stephen Card behind us? We had met him some years ago. I looked at him and said....No, He's too young. This was a very youthful looking man but his face did look very familiar to me and I looked back at him a few times and finaly said...This is silly. I'll go ask.

I went to him and asked "You aren't Stephen, are you?" Yes...It WAS Stephen. The gentleman he had been with was just leaving and Stephen asked us to join him with our wine. We did that and had a wonderful chat. We realized we needed to leave in order to be cleaned up and dressed on time. As we started to excuse ourselves, he said....See you later for dinner. What??!!\

He was smiling as he knew a secret we did not. Margaret Binnendyk knew I really wanted to have the opportunity to meet Stephen so she arranged for us to dine with him and his lovely wife, Ruth. Once again, they had made me speechless. (That is a rare thing for me. ) Did HAL keep notes of every reference we made to anything we liked, would like, wanted???? It sure seemed that way.

We're just an ordinary couple from Massachusetts and we were traveling in an extraordinary Fairytale!!!

So, showered and dressed we go back out and about the ship to meet up in Pinnacle Bar for drinks before dinner. Wait until you see this new addition. It's great!! For people having dinner in Pinnacle, it's such a warm, beautiful lounge to relax with a cocktail but it certainly isn't only for people going to Pinnacle. We think it Terrific.

Chat, chat....what a wonderful time we are having. We are a group of five and were seated at a great table with a 'view'. I love to see the 'action' on a ship and Margaret had arranged for a wonderful table. Service was amazing. We ordered from the regular Pinnacle Menu.....which, of course, was a pleasure. I had the petite filet and seeing as I eat very little red meat, I am very particular about where I eat it.

If I don't think it will be excellent, I won't 'waste' my rare treat on an inferior serving. This filet was as good as I have ever had anywhere....I ordered it medium rare and that is exactly how it was served. Seasoned wonderfully, hot and Perfect! DH ordered one of those very large servings of Porterhouse or rib-eye...I don't recall which but I do know he enjoyed every bite (and I don't think he left a bite. ) We had all started with a soup or salad and we had a selection of vegetables and potatoes and all the yummies that are part of a meal at Pinnacle.

We weren't done yet though....I had to have my Chocolate Volcano and Ruth had the creme brulee. I don't recall what the others had but we all said they were delicious.

Tomorrow is the BIG Day so DH and I sat with Stephen and Ruth for a short while. We had an after dinner drink and headed back to our cabin.

We wondered to ourselves whether we would be able to order Room Service for breakfast as that is what we always do on the ships.

Should have known.....First thing we noticed when we entered our Suite was the Steward had left a room service menu for us!!! Happiness again reigned.

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Is this getting too excrutiatingly detailed???

Part V to come.
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S

sail7seas

Guest
#18
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Today is the Big DAY!!!!

Part V


We wake about 7:00 so we can enjoy our Room Service omelettes before dressing. Room Service arrived exactly on time with our hot omelettes exactly as we had ordered. A pot of coffee and a bagel and we were happy. I packed up our suitcase....remember I'm the one who never travels 'light' so it took a few minutes.

We dressed and knew we were expected at the Vista Lounge for a final rehearsal at 9:00 A.M. As we were leaving our room, we found an invitation for Luncheon had been delivered. (More about that later.)

**I have failed to mention in other posts where it may have 'fit in better' that Noordam is the first ship in the fleet to have Elemis bath products in the cabins. They are delicious. Wonderful soap - face/ and shower; body lotion, shampoo and a separate conditioner--not the combo as with the products we have had in recent years. I really like these Elemis line. Sorry for digressing..... **

We slowly made our way to the Vista Lounge and a few minutes before 9:00, we opened the doors which had been kept closed. As we entered the Lounge, DH and I said.......we smell flowers. Flowers!!! Did we smell Flowers!!!

As we stepped forward, our eyes popped out of our heads. I am very sure there is not a single tulip plant in Holland this week as they are all on Noordam.

We were told the airlifted plants arrived at the terminal and were loaded onto the ship at 4 A.M. Hundreds and hundreds of the freshest, most beautiful tulips decorated the stage in front of the great backdrop which had been created.....of New York street. Tulips in front of the stage; tulips at the end of aisles......They were GORGEOUS!!!

Neatly lettered place cards had been set out for reserved seating sections. (You can be sure at the end of the day.....ours made their way into my purse.)

Everyone was dressed for the day so as we did our final rehearsal, photographers took pictures...many pictures. We're having a total Blast!!! How can two people possibly have this much fun??
Rehearsal was over and we left knowing we were to be in the dining room for Luncheon at 11:45.

We ran into several people we had met during our time aboard and chatted and enjoyed a cup of coffee. We were drinking in the atmosphere of excitement as the Maiden Voyage cruisers were starting to embark. Great watching their reaction walking around this magnificent ship and starting to get their bearings. They sure were a happy bunch. They knew they had a full, wonderful cruise ahead of them and it hadn't yet begun.

Luncheon: Okay....now picture this. As I've said, we are just an regular, everyday couple from Massachusetts.

We've been invited to Lunch at the Head Table. Phew.....
We are lunching with Mr. and Mrs. Stein Kruse, Mr. and Mrs. Micky Arison, Mr. and Mrs. Dingemans (Architect of HAL ships); Mr. and Mrs. Antonini (of Fincantieri BoatYards....the genuises who build the fabulous Carnival and HAL ships), Marlee Matlin (Noordam's Godmother and Acadamy Award winning actress) and her Interpretor, Jack; Captain John Scott and his wife Susan, Mr. Andrew Alper of New York City Economic Development, Mr. Howard Frank, Vice Chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation.....oh yah....and us.

How do you like the circles we travel in??? Talk about feeling like "Queen for a Day?" Some of the baby boomers reading this may remember that TV show.

This was the nicest group of people you could ever imagine. DH and I so enjoyed the opportunity to join with this very special, very talented, fascinating table of remarkable achievers. It is this group that puts their talents together and creates the ships/the cruise experiences we love.

Gee....what a chance it could have been for me to ask for some of those subtle changes we occassionally dream about. No...I guess not.

I've talked little about the amazing food coming out of Noordam's kitchens. The Dedication Luncheon Menu is as follows:


Seared Lobster and Shrimp /Cocktail - Chukka seaweed salad with shiso vinaigrette (positively killer delicious --- we loved it.)

Choice of:

Sterling Silver Beef Medallion and Lamp Chop (Pinot Noir demi-glace, apple chutney with mint oil. Mushroom capped potatoes and roasted ratatouille vegetables (Dh had this and it was scrumptious)

OR

Grilled Halibut Pan Asian Style (Thai rice vegetable noodles, ginger lemon grass and peanut dressing (This is what I had and I ate every teeny tiny bit of it!!! Totally delicious!!)


OR

Grilled Portobello Mushroom (Vegetable spaghetti and tomato concassee)

For Dessert, Chef created a masterpiece he called:

Dialogue of Grand Marnier and Chocolate Mousse.......The mousse was placed beautifully on the plate and a 'chocolate straw' rose high and was completely surrounded with spun sugar strands that were light as air.

We enjoyed wonderful wines....or anything else anyone desired.


I could get very used to this!!!


Now it is time to freshen up and head to the Vista Lounge. The guests invited to the ceremony are gathering and it is almost time to start.


Part VI to come a bit later.......
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S

sail7seas

Guest
#19
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Part VI

We enter the Vista Lounge and go directly to the seats we have now become well accustomed to...... First Row; right up front!!! We're on the left hand side of the stage. Others participating were on the right. As we entered the lounge, we were handed programs....(we took a few extras!!). Talk about excited. There we were ---our names in the Program!!!

Stewards had passed glasses of champagne and wine and juice etc and a steward hurried over to offer us a glass. Of course we needed to toast Noordam one more time.

The Lounge is full and everyone is excited and anxious to see the Ceremony and Celebrate the Dedication of ms Noordam.

All the participants are in their seats and the group "Rock-a-pela" takes the stage and sings the National Anthem.

Mr. Kruise is introduced and Welcomes everyone and the Ceremony proceeds as rehearsed.

You can feel how much everyone is enjoying this happy event.

In addition to what I have already described, Mr. Antonini (Chairman of Fincantieri Shipyards) , spoke of the special relationship between
Carnival Cruiseline and HAL. About the many ships they have already built for HAL and Carnival and the fact more are on order.

Mr. Andrew Alper (President of New York City Economic Development) spoke of the good relationship between HAL and the City and the new Passenger facilities under construction.

Captain Scott made the remarks I have already referenced and
now it is our turn. We are so happy to once again see that beautiful bell. We recite the Blessing of the Bell with Captain Scott and when we poured our flutes of champagne on the bell, there were cheers and clapping and it was such happiness.

I mentioned that during the rehearsal, they presented me with a white rose at the Blessing of the Bell. During the "Real" Ceremony, they had made a lovely arrangement of the most beautiful yellow orchid with fantastic greens and PEACOCK FEATHERS; the stems wrapped in burgundy colored velour....a color used in the decorating of Noordam. (It is in my refrigerator and still looks fresh. I managed to carry it home on the plane and each time I reach in the 'frig', I see it and take it out for another look at it.)

Marlee Matlin now signed her speech and we watch the large screen that showed the champagne perfectly broke against the side of the ship right at the spot where ms Noordam is lettered. Cheering and excitement when we watched it smash!! Marlee is presented with a lovely bouquet of white roses. Pyrotechnics and confetti and the orchestra is playing and it is a spectable we will never forget. How many people get to attend a ship's Dedication let alone participate? We are so grateful for the experience. Memories of a lifetime.

All too quickly, the Dedication came to an end and I turned to DH and said......."It's Over". But, for us, it wasn't.

Within a split second, Brian (from here on this Board ----'bepsf') and RevNeal (Greg) who are sailing on the Maiden Voyage were shaking our hands and hugging us and smiling and I was thrilled to see them both. I had met Greg earlier in the day but not Brian. What a treat he is. I adored him immediately and was so happy they made the effort to come to our seats to say hello. We only had a brief moment to spend with him but I know I will try hard to find the chance to sail with him. (We wish we had met others from this board that were sailing but it wasn't possible.)

We were floating on air......The ms Noordam was now properly named and her Bell has been blessed and I think we all said a silent prayer to ourselves to wish her always safe sailing and happy landings.........

Some final thoughts and still another overwhelming surprise in my final installment tomorrow.
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S

sail7seas

Guest
#20
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Part VII

As we prepared to leave the Vista Lounge, Margaret Binnendyk, who had taken such good care of us throughout this whole experience (Bless her ) , asked us to go to The Oak Room.

We started to leave with her but got separated. The one place we had not visited on the ship was Crowsnest. I don't know how that happened but we had forgotten that is where The Oak Room is. We saw Jazzie Jeff (DJ on Noordam) and asked him where it was.

In typical HAL fashion, whenever you ask a crew person anything, they go so far out of their way to help in every way. He tucked my arm into his and said, "I'll Bring you there"......and that is exactly what he did.

When we arrived we found most of our Lunch companions there. We all had a glass of champagne and Mr. Kruse said Holland America had a few gifts they would like to present.

There was an amazing Venetian Glass piece on the table and Mr. Kruse presented that to Marlee Matlin. I wish I could describe it to you but I'm not that gifted. Suffice to say, gorgeous .......

Then, to our complete shock.....we're still not used to all these immense surprises they kept springing on us......there was a magnificent crystal bowl from Tiffany& Co. he presented to us.
I tried to say a few words of thanks but at this point, I was incapable of speech. When my voice cracked and tears misted my eyes.......
Well, I guess that said it all.

Incredulous......They were Thanking US???? No....no, no.....It is us who Thank Them!!!!

Then they presented a strand of the creamiest, most beautiful pearls to Marlee. She put them around her neck and they looked lovely on her.

I think it obvious from all I have written here that DH and I lived a dream, had the time of our lives and have memories we will hold dear for a lifetime.

I have enjoyed sharing it here with all us Mariners. I can't thank you enough for the beautiful messages so many of you wrote. You cannot know how much they mean to me.

The only way to end this, that will please me........is to salute the entire company of Holland America Line. All of those who work to make our cruises great.

While we were with some pretty 'heady' company for those few days......it is the days, weeks, months, years that we spend on the ships that is what it is all about in terms of our 'usual' connection with HAL.

While the Seattle Headquarters people, of course, are critical as to what this company is; as to the leadership; the direction etc etc etc (endlessly) ....

What made us love HAL and HAL ships are those who work on the ships. Those who are in Seattle have the same mindset in terms of HAL guests. IMO They want us well taken care of, treated with courtesy and respect, welcomed warmly and spoiled to the degrees possible. They want every cruise to be the 'trip of a lifetime' . And that is what we first learned about HAL.....on the ships.

Now that my feet are back on the ground, I am starting to think about going to Ryndam April 2. We can't wait to be back on/in an HAL ship and to see the smiling faces of the crews/staff/Officers that are the people we have the contact with who make our cruises what they are. It was awfully hard leaving Noordam knowing that beautiful crew was preparing to take the lucky Maiden Voyage guests on their 'trip of a lifetime.'

Now we know that the people in Seattle and the crews are more alike than we had any way of knowing before this experience. All of them are individually and collectively remarkable people....each in their own way.
Thank you to everyone who gave us this incredible experience. To those who worked so hard making the Inaugural activities so amazing.
Thank you CC'ers for letting me share it all here.


Wishing us all (and the crews on the ships)

".......fair winds and a following sea"

On all our future cruises.
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