Holland America Line has announced the 15 winning guest finalists who will compete on the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champions Cruise Dec. 6, 2014, aboard ms Westerdam. Each winner will represent one of the 15 ships in Holland America Line’s fleet and was selected via the onboard “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competitions held throughout the past year.
The 15 guests and their professional shipboard dance partners will perform and compete in the main show lounge for guests, as well as the dance pros and celebrities from the hit ABC television show “Dancing with the Stars,” who will be onboard the Champions Cruise. The winning couple will walk away with the coveted Holland America Line “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Mirrorball Trophy and title of Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion.
Now it’s time to meet 12 of the winning champions (in ship alphabetical order) who are busy polishing their dance moves before setting sail on the Dec. 6 cruise.
Amsterdam: Simona Tsives from San Francisco, Calif., who works for a tech company in Silicon Valley, earned her top spot on the Champions Cruise with a sultry samba. Having danced jazz in high school and modern dance in college, she’s no stranger to performing but says time on the dance floor is limited these days.
Between work and all the kids’ activities and homework assignments I don’t really have much free time left, but once in a while we have dance parties with the kids at home. We go crazy!
One of her favorite destinations is Argentina, so it’s no surprise that her favorite dance is the Argentinian Tango.
Eurodam: New York City resident Matthew McGloin (not the quarterback for the Oakland Raiders!) is ready to display the Mirrorball Trophy on the windowsill of his apartment overlooking the city. While hip-hop might be his favorite form of dance, he’s taken ballet and gymnastics classes and would have loved to dance with film beauty Cyd Charisse.
I like to dance because it just feels natural to move and groove to music. I think it’s one of the most basic joys of being alive, the combination of movement and music.
Matthew manages an after-school program at an elementary school where he is, no doubt, practicing his moves with the kids in anticipation of the Champions Cruise!
Maasdam: Elaine Jordan of Meeker, Colo., has been dancing all of her life as part of her Polish and Croatian heritage. Her favorite dance is the waltz, and that’s what she performed on her Holland America Line cruise.
Dancing is uplifting and fun. It is also good exercise.
A retired high school math and social studies teacher, Elaine is working on visiting all 50 states and she enjoys going to places she’s never been. If she had the chance to compete on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” she’d want five-time winner Derek Hough as her partner.
Nieuw Amsterdam: Brenton Mitchell considers himself an amateur ballroom dancing hobbiest who takes to the floor several days a week in his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I like to dance because I love music. When I hear a good song, I can’t wait to express myself through movement, bringing all of the senses into harmony.
This pediatric occupational therapist enjoys the quickstep and the jive, although he won his cruise competition with the samba. When asked what dancer he’d like to partner with, he picked Ginger Rogers for a more serious partner and J. Lo or Beyonce for fun because “they are both energetic, beautiful and always look like they’re genuinely enjoying themselves.”
Noordam: Maurice Jan Andres Van Melick (no photo available) of Arnhem, Netherlands, was on his first Holland America Line cruise when he won his ship’s competition dancing the samba. He is an IT consultant who competes in Latin and ballroom dancing at an amateur level and says it’s impossible to pick a favorite type of dance.
Dancing is an important part of my life, and my partner and I practice on regular basis. Dancing is good for your health, a great way to relieve stress and it is a nice opportunity to socialize.
He’d love the chance to dance with “Dancing with the Stars” pro Kym Johnson and he’s ready to display the Mirrorball Trophy at the dance school where he practices.
Oosterdam: Kelly Cooper of Concord, Calif., is a high school teacher and certified athletic trainer who loves to dance but has no previous ballroom training. She won her Alaska cruise competition with the samba and likes the pace of the jive.
[Dancing] is how I get my two kids out of their grumpy moods, particularly my 5-year-old daughter – she’s a crab in the morning!! I love dancing because it is a fun way to exercise without belaboring the fact that you are actually exercising. I love music, and I like the release that dance allows you.
Holland America Line’s headquarter city of Seattle is one of her favorite destinations, and she’s ready to display the Mirrorball Trophy in her training room. Fred Astaire is Kelly’s ideal partner, but she would need to borrow Ginger’s dresses, “because she was flawless.”
Prinsendam: Jacoba Wendrich of Barendrecht, Netherlands, considers 25 years of dancing with her husband as the best experience she could ask for. Her favorite dance is the samba, and she won her ship competition with this genre. Having cruised with Holland America Line 18 times, Jacoba lists Indonesia/Asia as her favorite travel destination.
I like dancing because it’s good for your health and I feel happy when I am dancing.
If she had the chance to dance with anyone, she’s ask Michael Malitowski — a former World Latin Dance Champion — to take her for a spin across the dance floor.
Rotterdam: Jamie Freedman of Boca Raton, Fla., grew up dancing and learning the basics, and recently she signed up for cha cha classes. She loves to cruise with her husband and two children, and the family considers their motto to be “The family that cruises together, stays together!” When she’s onboard Jamie loves going to the dance classes, and she won her ship competition performing the jive.
I love to dance because it makes me happy. I have never seen anyone looking mad or upset when they are dancing.
Jamie considers “Dancing with the Stars” pro Derek Hough a “genius” and her ideal partner would be either her husband or the late Patrick Swayze.
Ryndam: Marie Liza Rodriguez Falek from San Juan, Puerto, Rico, says the salsa and tango are among her favorite dances, and a few years ago she started taking flamenco classes to hone her skills.
When asked her ideal dance partner, she had a clear favorite:
Hugh Jackman. I saw him in a Broadway musical, The Boy from Oz, and he is an amazing dancer, plus he is very handsome and an excellent actor.
She loves to travel to Europe, but she next plans to visit Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong. The Champions Cruise will be her second with Holland America Line.
Statendam: Oncology nurse LeeAnn Valero of Chicago, Ill., danced on her high school poms team and hip-hop is her favorite genre. On her cruise to Alaska LeeAnn won the ship competition with the jive, and she hopes to display the Mirrorball Trophy on her Facebook and Instagram page.
I like dancing because it’s fun. It can be serious or it can be a way to act goofy and not matter. Dancing is entertaining whether the dancing is good or bad (hopefully I fall on the good side).
Her dad is her favorite dance partner because he loves ballroom dancing and “looks so happy” when he’s gliding across the floor.
Volendam: Graduate student Frances Manzo of Houston, Texas, has been dancing professionally for 13 years. Although she dances everyday, next year she will attend law school full time to pursue a career in criminal prosecution. Jazz and hip-hop are her favorite dances, and she won her shipboard competition with the jive.
I love both the creative and logical aspects of dancing. Creatively, I love the freedom of expression, and I love that it is open to interpretation. Logically, I love that dance requires the analyzation of movement; you must figure out how to move from point A to point B seamlessly, accurately and passionately.
Her ideal “Dancing with the Stars” partner would be Mark Ballas, and if she wins the Mirrorball Trophy she’s ready to display it by her front door.
Zaandam: Caroline Chan of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, might look familiar from her role in AMC’s “Broken Trail” with Robert Duvall. A professional actress, Caroline also works for an experiential event marketing company. Growing up, she danced for 10 years and also did wushu and kickboxing.
I haven’t taken a dance class for 10-11 years! It was nice to get in touch with my dance life [onboard] because it was such a big part of my life growing up. I love dance because its a beautiful way to express yourself, to be in the moment and to stay fit!
Her cruise to Hawaii was her first Holland America Line adventure, and she loved Honolulu because she was able to see many of her family members for the day. Caroline looks forward to one day dancing with her future husband.
Ian Alldritt, left, and Ritchie Valenzuela are two more dancers competing on the Champions Cruise.
The other guest finalists and their ships are Summer Knowlden of Lehi, Utah, representing ms Veendam; Ritchie Valenzuela of San Diego, Calif., representing ms Westerdam; and Ian Alldritt of Nepean, Ontario, Canada, representing ms Zuiderdam.
You might recognize Summer Knowlden from her YouTube video knocking down her daughter while twerking, but it was her more formal moves that earned her a spot on the Champions Cruise.
Joining the Champions Cruise to perform in a special production show are two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champion Kym Johnson and pro dancers Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev. Celebrities set to perform include actress Sabrina Bryan and television personality Carson Kressley.
The “Dancing with the Stars” talent will dazzle the audience with dance numbers from the television series performed in the main show lounge. Additional events on the cruise include a special fashion show featuring the glamorous show costumes and a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, ask questions and take photos with them.
The Dec. 6 Champions Cruise visits the eastern Caribbean sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with calls at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private island in the Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.
Holland America Line has extended its partnership with “Dancing with the Stars” and will feature the shipboard program through the 2015-16 sailing season, culminating with a Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition on the Jan. 10, 2016, western Caribbean sailing of ms Westerdam.
The 2015 schedule also will continue to feature “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming on every cruise throughout the year, in addition to six special “Dancing with the Stars” theme cruises featuring the show’s professional dancers and celebrities. Celebrities and professional dancers for 2015-16 will be announced in the coming weeks.
Good luck to all of our finalists on the Champions Cruise!