Today is “Day of the Seafarer,” and it’s a day to celebrate the hardworking crew members you meet on every cruise. It is the fourth year that the International Maritime Organization has celebrated this campaign.
In 2010, the Diplomatic Conference that met in Manila, the Philippines, agreed that the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole, should be marked annually with a “Day of the Seafarer.” The date chosen was June 25, the day on which the amendments were formally adopted.
The campaign was developed for many reasons:
To increase awareness among the general public of the indispensable services seafarers render to international seaborne trade, the world economy and society at large.
To send a clear message to seafarers that the IMO recognizes and appreciates their services; that the IMO understands the extraordinary conditions and circumstances of their profession; that the IMO does care; and that the IMO does all that it can to look after and protect seafarers when the circumstances of life at sea so warrants; and
To redouble the IMO’s efforts at the regulatory level to create a better, safer and more secure world in which seafarers can operate.
Holland America Line seafarers live and work onboard, and it’s a 24/7 operation. Traveling for months at a time away from home, they bring their land-life with them and work colleagues become like family. So home doesn’t feel so far away, the ships celebrate holidays from cultures all over the world, and the crew truly are a melting pot of nationalities.
Recently the ships celebrated the 116th Philippine Independence Day. Both Oosterdam and Zaandam were in Alaska for this occasion.
Ryndam was at Eidfjord, Norway, when the crew commemorated Philippine Independence Day with a shoreside tug-o-war competition. Nine teams from all departments competed and many guests and crew attended to cheer for their favorites. The finale was a rousing bout between the beverage and engine teams, with all participants giving it all they had. After much pulling, shouting and strategic maneuvers, the engine team came out as the overall winners of the tug-of-war.
It’s also important for officers and crew members to celebrate their birthdays when they are onboard for the special day. Last week ms Rotterdam’s Hotel Director Mike Mahn turned 50, and his wife Miranda, who works in Holland America Line’s Rotterdam office, surprised him while the ship was at port in Rotterdam. With Miranda and their three kids by his side, Mike looked to the skies and saw an airplane flying over the ship with a Happy Birthday message. What a surprise!
Westerdam’s deck department Deck celebrated Captain Rens van Eerten’s birthday with a banner and photo on the bow of the ship.
When in the Philippines and other ports around the world, Holland America Line welcomes crew members’ families onboard for the day for a brief, although touching and meaningful, reunion. Many crew members are gone for months at a time, so this is a chance to reconnect and show off their workplace. Some crew even meet new family additions for the first time! On the 2014 Grand World Voyage, ms Amsterdam called at Manila, Philippines, and more than 1,000 family members were welcomed onboard. Captain Mercer recalls this day as one of his favorites.
Another [favorite memory] would be that of family members of our crew, visiting while we were in Manila. Heaven knows how many photos I had taken that day. And sitting in my office, seeing the children, wide-eyed and beaming with smiles, pop their faces around my door and wish me “Hello, Captain!” before dashing off giggling, to join their parents. — Captain Mercer
The ships also hold service award ceremonies and new-hire welcomes to honor crew members who have reached milestone years of service with Holland America Line and to welcome new crew members to the ship.
During a recent event on Zaandam, Captain Wouter van Hoogdalem was observed talking to the newly hired crew members in an effort to get their feedback about their first months onboard. The new hires and service awardees raised a glass (of refreshing non-alcoholic sparkling wine) to a successful contract onboard Zaandam.
Many crew members at the event reached impressive years of service. Celebrated were those who marked their 10th year, while others hit 20 and even 30 years! Holland America Line is lucky to have so many dedicated crew members who remain part of the family for so long.
Holland America Line also recognizes special employees who go above and beyond their duties with an “Employee of the Month” award on each ship in the fleet. Here is just a small example of the exemplary crew members who work onboard.
In tribute to all of our seafarers and the world’s 1.5 million seafarers, we proudly say “Thank you, Seafarers!” for all that you do, the sacrifices you make and the smiles you put on so many faces.