Holland America Line plans to name its latest flagship vessel in the Netherlands next spring with UK agents among the attendees.
The 2,660-passenger vessel, Rotterdam, which was built in Italy and delivered to the line in July, is now preparing to reposition to Fort Lauderdale next month.
A shakedown cruise from Rotterdam to Amsterdam will take place before the repositioning cruise on October 20.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast on Thursday, HAL president Gus Antorcha outlined plans to name the ship next year when it returns to the Netherlands in April.
He said: “In spring, Rotterdam will be back in northern Europe. I would like to do the naming in northern Europe. I would like to get trade and press on the ship and make it a wonderful celebration of that ship and our history.
“She will be very close to the Netherlands and Rotterdam. That is where we name and welcome her in a proper and more normal way. We’re going to make a big deal about this.”
Antorcha, who was previously Carnival Cruise Line’s chief operating officer, confirmed that the UK is one of the four main source markets for HAL outside the US. The others include the Benelux countries, Australia and Canada.
He added: “The good thing about having the naming in Europe is having the UK and northern European trade partners.
“Everybody will get invited and hopefully we’ll be able to make it a big party.”
Antorcha said the line’s European sales team was planning a shakedown cruise for the ship in “a few weeks’ time” before the repositioning cruise.
“There will be some dignitaries and trade onboard,” he said. “We’re there to support the crew as we get ready. The purpose is to get the crew ready.”
Antorcha said he “jumped” at the opportunity to name the vessel Rotterdam. The ship is the seventh vessel to bear the name in the line’s history.
He added: “It really is a nod and an acknowledgement to the history of this brand and the traditions we have as a brand.
“I am incredibly excited our newest ship will be called Rotterdam.”
Asked how long he felt Covid-19 protocols would be in place in the cruise sector, Antorcha said passengers would be required to be vaccinated or testing “for a while” and masks onboard would go first.
He said: “Different points in time, different geographies will have different requirements. We’re always working with all the regulatory authorities (on) what we’re doing to make sure we’re keeping our guests and crew safe. It’s going to change, it’s going to move around.