The Port of Halifax, in Nova Scotia, held a shoreside celebration to honor Holland America Line’s 150th anniversary in 2023. Port and cruise line officials attended the festive event, which included music and the exchange of special plaques to mark the occasion.
Halifax, Holland America Enjoy a Long History
Holland America Line, a premium brand of Carnival Corporation, is marking its 150th anniversary in 2023, a milestone that was recognized by the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in a special ceremony on August 28.
The cruise line and the port have a long relationship, since Holland America ships have been regularly calling at Halifax for 30 years. The line routinely includes Halifax on its many Canada/New England cruises in summer and fall.
The cruise line’s Zuiderdam is currently operating the coastal cruises, between Boston and Quebec City, and the 1,916-guest ship called at the port on the day of the ceremony to participate in the festivities.
The event was held at the Canadian Museum of Immigration, located at Pier 21, where Halifax Port Authority President and CEO Captain Allan Gray presented Zuiderdam Captain Bart Vaartjes with a commemorative plaque.
“Holland America Line has played an important role in the development of Halifax as a premiere cruise destination over the past three decades. We are proud to celebrate this milestone with Holland America Line and look forward to building our partnership for many years to come,” said Allan Gray, of the Halifax Port Authority.
Holland America Line holds a special place in the port’s history, since one of its ships was the first to visit the facility when Pier 21 opened nearly a century ago.
“As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, we’re pleased to mark the occasion with our friends at the Port of Halifax, with whom we share a rich history. When Pier 21 began operations in 1928, Holland America Line’s ship Nieuw Amsterdam I was the first to arrive with passengers,” said Gus Antorcha, President of Holland America Line.
“Since then, Halifax has played a role in the success of Holland America Line, serving as a gateway to Canada and beyond for countless travelers. We are honored to present the Port of Halifax with a plaque that is a statement of how much we value a partnership that we have enjoyed for decades,” Antorcha added.
Activities during the celebration featured ceremonial drumming by the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and a performance by the 78th Highlanders Pipe Band. Tourism officials from organizations including Discover Halifax, Tourism Nova Scotia, and Parks Canada attended the event.
Holland America Line was founded in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in spring 1873, a few months after its first ship sailed, in October 1872. Both dates were celebrated by the line during the 150th anniversary, with special transatlantic sailings of the MS Rotterdam between the US and the Netherlands in late 2022 and early 2023.
Halifax Expects 180 Ship Visits in 2023
Holland America Line is among several cruise brands that sail Canada’s eastern coast between April and November, often combining Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and French Canada destinations with New England ports such as Boston, and Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, among others.
Currently, in the middle of its 2023 cruise season, Halifax reported robust cruise arrivals in 2022, when the port welcomed 234,000 cruise arrivals and 148 ship calls. The port’s estimates for 2023 look even better, with officials predicting that 180 vessels will call, a 23% increase over 2022.
If those numbers are accurate, the port’s cruise activity will have returned to pre-pandemic numbers. In summer and fall of 2020, 179 ships visited and the port recorded 323,709 cruise arrivals.
Several notable mega-ships called at Halifax this year, including Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,000-guest Norwegian Prima and 5,200-guest Norwegian Escape.