Godmother Oprah Winfrey Names Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam
Media mogul, producer, actress and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey officially named Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam in a ceremony focused on unity and the transformative power of travel.
Fresh from a hugely successful Caribbean cruise for “O, The Oprah Magazine,” Winfrey starred in the shipboard festivities Saturday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Port Everglades.
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“The past three days I will cherish,” Winfrey said of the Nieuw Statendam cruise that carried 2,000 of her women fans and 57 men. They participated in activities like book chats, motivational lectures and group yoga on the beach at Half Moon Cay that drew 600 people. The last night featured a pajama dance party, and Winfrey teased Holland America President Orlando Ashford for his “Hugh Hefner jacket.”
“I’ve never seen anything like these past three days,” Winfrey said, marveling at the diversity of the group, from their ages (6 to 93) to the diversity of their backgrounds. Admitting she’d been skeptical of going on the cruise, she said: “It has turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
After Winfrey pulled a lever on the ship’s World Stage to release a bottle of champagne that smashed on the hull, she raised her arms, gleefully proclaiming: “I’m the godmother!”
“It is human nature to want to connect and understand each other,” Ashford said. “Nieuw Statendam is our highest aspiration for connection and understanding in our world.”
A travel professional and three crew played key roles in the ceremony, sharing their personal stories of transformation by travel.
Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement & performance for Dream Vacations, part of World Travel Holdings, recounted how a trip to Alaska, a reward for being the top Alaska seller the first year he became a travel agent, changed his life. Wowed by Alaska, Denali and the Yukon, he went from simply selling travel to making it his quest to create opportunities for clients to have experiences that are “close, personal and connected.”
Capt. Sybe de Boer recapped the “expertise, passion and skill” of thousands of workers and artisans that it took to create a ship like Nieuw Statendam.
Environmental officer Diana Mihalache, from Romania, talked about working among a crew of 45 nationalities with 25 languages. “This diversity is the very soul of Nieuw Statendam,” she said. Everyone is united for a common goal. “We are one crew, one family, with one mission: to show you the world.”
Tamarind restaurant dining host Dee Dewi was born in Bali and expected to spend her life taking care of the family farm. But after tragedy struck nine years ago, a friend suggested she apply to work for Holland America Line. Since then, she’s been able to send her brother and sister to school and bought a house for her parents, all before turning 30. “I’m very proud of it,” she said, adding that she even met her fiancé, a Canadian, on board.
Nieuw Statendam is the sixth ship in Holland America Line’s long history to carry the Statendam name. The first came 25 years after the company’s founding, the second served as a troop carrier during World War II, and the fourth was the first Holland America ship to sail a world cruise.