Cruise Line Grants Wish After Man Admires Ships for Over 80 Years

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A heart-warming experience unfolded on Holland America Line’s Zaandam when the ship welcomed a senior citizen from Canada who had always wanted to see what a cruise ship was like but never had the chance to cruise.

The ship’s officers and crew organized an exciting ship tour and birthday party for the 87-year-old and his family.

Canadian Celebrates 87th Birthday Aboard Zaandam

Talk about a birthday surprise. For Leonard Wood, who lives in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, it was a dream-come-true event when Holland America Line’s Zaandam invited him onboard for a ship tour and birthday party celebrating his 87th year.

According to the Holland America Line, Wood, for many years, had admired the cruise ships he would see in the distance as they made their way along Canada’s eastern coast.

Leonard Wood on Zaandam Cruise Ship
Leonard Wood on Zaandam Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Port of Charlottetown)

His fascination with cruise ships even led him to have his picture taken in front of nearly every ship that called at the Port of Charlottetown.

Knowing that Wood was intrigued by the ships and that he was eager to know how the ships looked on the inside, two family friends asked Holland America if their friend could take a look at Zaandam while she was in port, as a special birthday surprise. (Zaandam is currently sailing Canada/New England cruises.)

Holland America Line told friends Melissa Batchilder and Haley Zavodivker, that the Zaandam would be happy to oblige.

So on May 31, Wood and his family were welcomed onboard the ship, given a tour of the bridge, and treated to a surprise party at the Pinnacle Grill restaurant. The crew even baked him a ship-themed birthday cake.

Leonard Wood on Zaandam Cruise Ship
Leonard Wood on Zaandam Cruise Ship

“Ever since I was little, I used to love to draw planes and big ships. I loved seeing pictures of ships and was always excited to see them in port. Getting to see the size of one up close, to know firsthand what it’s like to board a ship that size is, well, more than exciting,” said Wood.

The Canadian said he has always been impressed by the size of the vessels and the behind-the-scenes work involved in sailing cruise ships worldwide.

Leonard Wood on Zaandam Cruise Ship
Leonard Wood on Zaandam Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Port of Charlottetown)

Wood’s daughter, Robin John, said she was delighted that her father’s wish was granted by the Zaandam crew.

“It means the world to us that Dad (aka Grampie) has this opportunity. Everything that Zaandam has offered Dad is beyond amazing. I’m overwhelmed by everything. I’m just so thankful Dad gets this whole experience,” she said.

The blog noted that Wood’s grandchildren also are enthusiastic whenever they see ships coming into port, and have taken to calling them “Grampie’s ships.”

Other Good Works By Holland America

Besides providing this senior citizen with a special birthday, Holland America Line has other charitable initiatives in play. In May the line announced it would donate proceeds from a special fundraising event onboard its ships deployed to Alaska this season to the nonprofit Alaska Geographic.

The line’s On Deck for a Cause fundraiser is taking place on all six of the line’s ships sailing to the Last Frontier State. Alaska Geographic is a nonprofit educational partner representing Alaska’s parks, forests, refuges, and conservation lands.

Zaandam Cruise Ship
Zaandam Cruise Ship

The 1,432-guest Zaandam’s series of Canada/New England sailings travel between Boston and Montreal. Port calls include Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island, Canada; and Quebec City.

Along with Pinnacle Grill, where the birthday party was held, the ship also features the Dining Room, Lido Market, Canaletto, for Italian-inspired dishes, the poolside Dive-In, and the Explorations Cafe.

The ship has two stateroom categories, inside and ocean view, plus three suite categories, Vista, Neptune, and Pinnacle suites. Zaandam also features a spa, theater, and several bars and lounges.

Holland America Line also is known for its music clubs, and onboard Zaandam guests can enjoy live music at B.B. King’s Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, and the Rolling Stone Rock Room. Holland America Line is a Carnival Corporation brand.

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