Zaandam was escorted into the Port of Durban by tug boats that provided a traditional water cannon salute, while Durban Harbour Master’s office representative, Captain Eric Durr and Zaandam’s Captain Smit Ane Jan exchanged plaques.
The plaque exchange is a maritime tradition that marks any ships inaugural call to a new port. As this is Zaandam’s first-time operating Holland America’s Africa circumnavigation, she has been marking the ceremony at several African ports on her voyage.
“COVID-19 has impacted the tourism industry a great deal over the past few years, so receiving a cruise vessel of Zaandam’s stature at the Port of Durban is another feather on our cap,” said Durr.
“This affirms the port and the City of Durban as a cruise destination of choice, as reflected in our previous nominations as finalists in the World Travel Awards category of Africa’s Leading Cruise Port,” he added.
Although the full African Grand Voyage is a 71-night roundtrip itinerary out of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, a shorter itinerary from Cape Town was also available.
The 27-night cruise departed Cape Town on November 23rd and will bounce up the West African coast initially, visiting Luderitz and Walvis Bay, Namibia, as well as Luanda in Angola, Takoradi in Ghana, Abidjan in Ivory Coast, and Banjul, Gambia, before crossing the Atlantic via Cape Verde and Puerto Rico to end the cruise in Florida.
Zaandam is one of Holland America Line’s hugely popular Rotterdam-class cruise ships. At 238 metres and 63,000-gross tons she carries 1,440 passengers at full capacity and features a decor inspired by music and musical instruments, including signed guitars from Queen, Iggy Pop, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones and a Baroque-style pipe organ.
There are four main dining rooms and 10 cafes and bars, as well as a theatre and casino, and four lounges, including a traditional crow’s nest lounge up top at the front of the ship, a feature increasingly uncommon on large cruise ships.
Holland America Line is known for its focus on fine dining, with regional cooking demonstrations and food and wine tastings with Port to Table during the voyage, as well as relaxation at the Greenhouse Spa and Salon.