An ancient practice of shipbuilders is to perform a traditional Coin-Under-the-Mast ceremony when a ship is "floated out." It's said to bring good fortune to the vessel.
Two special coins used in the recent floating out ceremony of Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Amsterdam, currently under construction at Fincantieri shipyard at Marghera, Italy, 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.
The poster above is from the Holland America Line collection of historical company posters, illustrating the line's Nieuw Amsterdam in service in 1953. As you may have guessed, Holland America Line often "recycles" ship names and the new Nieuw Amsterdam, to be launched in 2010, will be the fourth vessel christened with that name.