Friday, July 4, 2008

Eurodam, The Inaugural: What A Greeting

Eurodam may be the pride of Holland, but the Germans also gave us a rousing welcome as we sailed into Hamburg yesterday. Off the ship and just inside the terminal, the Get Happy Brass Band of Rendsburg struck a lively chord as we disembarked the ship for a day ashore.

While in the Hamburg cruise terminal I had the pleasure to speak with Dale Gruber of Warner Robins, Georgia, who, with his wife Sue joined Eurodam for the three-night “prelude” cruise yesterday. They arrived in Rotterdam a couple days before sailing in order to attend the Eurodam dedication event—as part of their pre-cruise package they were able to obtain tickets for $100 apiece. They loved the naming ceremony and Dale said they “wouldn’t have missed it.” The Grubers felt it was laid out well and, “if there were any glitches, they missed them.” Aside from it being a wonderful occasion, they were pleased to have been offered the opportunity to be there. Only cruising since 2003, Dale and Sue already have eighteen Holland America cruises under their belts and plan to be back aboard Eurodam to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in the Caribbean. Like me, the crewmembers on Holland America ships treat them like family and they appreciate the gracious on board ambiance.

And, speaking of holidays, Happy 4th of July! Today’s schedule aboard Eurodam calls for an old-fashioned American picnic with 'burger, hot dogs, and apple pie. While our European hosts have been gracious and welcoming—the Port of Hamburg regaled us with fireworks before sailaway last night—it’s a special treat that Holland America Line made it possible for our fellow passengers from around the world to share a uniquely American holiday tradition that holds such significance to those of us far from home. A Dutch passenger asked me what the fuss was about and when I explained that July 4th is the United States' Independence Day, his face lit up with a congratulatory smile. Freedom has no boundaries and knows no language barrier.

With the festivities drawing to a close, it’s time to pack for home. Like the Grubers, I look forward to being back on a Eurodam cruise again some day and hope to see my cabin steward Yudhi Hermawan again (he’s the best). If you missed the live webcast of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix naming Eurodam earlier in the week, you can catch the ceremony at Holland America’s web site.

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