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Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

1973 Veendam (III)

(Veendam) TONNAGE: BRT: 23,372 NRT: 14,568 DWT: 5,552
BUILT AT: Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation of Pascagoula Mississipp, U.S.A.
BUILT IN: 1958 YARDNO: 468
ENGINES: Two sets of Steam turbines by the General Electric Company, Schenectady,
New York, USA.
ENGINE OUTPUT: 35,000 Shaft horsepower. PROPELLORS: Two (fixed)
SERVICE SPEED: 20.5 Knots. MAX. SPEED: Over 24 Knots
LENGTH OVERALL: 188.22 Meters
DRAFT: 8.41 Meters.
(Veendam) PASSENGER CAPACITY: 713 Passengers. CREW: 401
SISTERSHIPS: Brasil (later ss Volendam (II))
REMARKS: Bunker capacity 3369 tons of oil.
The Argentina on her maiden arrival to New York
Constructed as a passenger ship with four full decks and 3 cargo holds with a total of 360,000 cub.ft. in holding capacity. The construction was partly funded by a government grant so the ship could be quickly converted into a troop carrier might the need arise. For this reason there was extra watertight sub-division on the lower decks, not unlike a warship. The keel was laid on 18 October 1957 and the hull launched on 12 March 1958. Delivered on 9 December 1958 as the Argentina (14,984 Brt. 553 in one First Class only) to the Moore – McCormack Lines Inc. of New York. The ship commenced her maiden voyage on 12 December 1958 with a sailing from New York to Buenos Aires, calling at various ports along the East coast of South America.

On her first departure after the refit. Her sister can be seen docked in the background.
During a 1963 refit at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation of Baltimore, 61 new cabins are added on an extra deck and a new observation lounge above the bridge is constructed. The old lounge on front of the midships ventilation house is removed. (New measurements: 23,372 Brt. 14,444 Nrt. 5,590 Dwt. and 670 Passengers First Class). Returns to the South America service. With the air planes taking more and more of the regular business trade and the surging crew costs, the ship is laid up in Baltimore in 1969.

The Veendam arriving for the first time in New York in HAL colors.
Bought together with her sister in April 1971 by Holland America for U.S. $ 10 mln. but she remained laid up pending approval of the sale by Congress. As the ship had been built with a government grant, the sale needed governmental approval. When approval came through, the ship left Baltimore on 25 August 1972, heading for Bremerhaven to be refitted at the Hapag – LLoyd Werft (arrival 8 September). The conversion into a cruiseship cost the company 15 mln. Dutch Guilders. The interiors were completed at Rotterdam. Renamed in Veendam (3) and registered for the N.V. Cruiseship Veendam, Willemstad, Curacao.

The intention was to use the Veendam for a whole season of European cruises but poor bookings put a stop to this. After the main refit work had been done the ship came to Rotterdam where her inteiors were finsihed off by local contractors. Then she made 3 short  cruises met invitees, personell and retired HAL people between 01 June and 05 June 1973 as part of the Centennial celebrations of the company.  This was followed by one European cruise commencing on 06 june  from Rotterdam, calling at Great Yarmouth and from there to Norwegian ports and fjords and on the way back to Copenhagen. On the 17th. of June she was back in Rotterdam and sailed the next day to New York via Southampton and Cobh.

She arrived in New York on the 25th. and after after travel agents visits etc. commenced her first cruise from New York to the Caraibbean on the 20th. of June.  t the same time the oil crises began the bite that caused high fuel prices and low cabin sales and the ship was laid up on 15 May 1974 at Hampton Roads. For the winter of 1974/75 a charter is obtained starting on the 15th. of December. Agencia Maritima Intermares S.A. of Brazil is the new operator of the ship offering cruises from Brazil for the Brazilian home market. The ship is also renamed in Brasil. The peculiar thing is, that this happened to the old name of the Veendam’s sistership when she was still sailing for Moore McCormack. Operated by a Dutch crew and with Brazilian stewardesses in the lounges the ship made cruises from Rio de Janeiro.

This charter ends on 21 April 1975 and after having reverted to the name Veendam, the ship starts a series of cruises from New York. On 1 January 1977 it commences sailing for a new HAL subsidiary called Monarch Cruises Lines of Miami under the name of Monarch Star. Registration is under Panamanian flag and a mainly Greek crew. (Measurement: 15,362 Brt.) As the independent management of the two ships by Monarch does not deliver the expected results, Holland America Cruises of Willemstad Curacao, assumes direct control over Monarch on 20 November 1977 and Monarch cruises is disbanded. On 8 January 1978 the ship is renamed to Veendam again with a registration for N.V. Veendam, Panama.

The Veendam sailing through the Inside Passage.
Due to the success of Holland America in Alaska after it took a share in Westoursand the ship is assigned to make Alaska cruises in May 1977. Officially chartered by Westours Inc. of Seattle, who sells the cabins and the tours but operated by HAL. This charter is repeated for the seasons of 1978, 1979 and 1980. In that year the ship joined and for 1981 replaced by the Rotterdam and the Statendam. Thus the Veendam returns to the Bermuda service for the summer of 1981. During the summer of 1979 the ship hits Ripple Shoal Reef in the Canadian inside passage and scrapes off half the thickness of her keel plates but due to the thickness (1.5 Inch on average) there are no punctures and no ingress of water. The ship anchors in Knox Bay until it is ascertained that the ship hull has indeed not been breached. The affected bottom plates are renewed at the North West Marine Iron Works in Portland Oregon.

The Veendam docked at the passenger terminal in New York during one of her Bermuda cruises.
During the winter season of 1979/1980 part of the space in hold no 3. is converted into Passenger cabins which increases the capacity with 46 while the ship remains in service. It commences on 20 May 1981 the first New York Bermuda cruise and will continue to run this service every summer until the sale of the ship in late 1983. Sailing every Sunday from New York. In 1982 the registration of the ship is moved from Panama to the Netherlands Antilles for Holland America Cruises Inc. of Willemstad, Curacao. (New measurement: 23,819 Brt.)

The Bermuda Star in her first livery after the sale.
Sold in October 1983 to the C.Y. Tung group of Hong Kong for U.S. $10 mln. and registered for the Billinghurst Shipping Limited of Panama. Delivered to them on 22 May 1984 in Newport News during the hand over dry-docking. The ship is managed by the Bahama Cruise Line and renamed in Bermuda Star. (Measurement: 14,208 Brt.) It leaves on 9 June 1984 for the first cruise, sailing from New York to Bermuda while in the winter it is deployed on cruises from Miami to Mexico. Near the end of 1984 a re-registration takes place and now the Island Navigation Corp. of Panama is the official owner. In October 1987 the operating company is renamed to Bermuda Star Line and the ship makes starts in January 1988 winter cruises from San Diego to the Mexican Riviera.

New Name, Queen of Bermuda and a new hull color.
Shortly after the ship is renamed in Queen of Bermuda. This is a name swap with her sister, so that the name “Bermuda Star” can continue its presence on the Bermuda service. A year later in 1989 it reverts back to the name Bermuda Star and is now registered for the Argentina Caribbean Shipping Company Limited of Panama. (Guess where that name came from) The Bermuda Star Line is taken over by Commodore Cruises (A subsidiary of the Swedish Eff-John group. The ship runs aground on 10 June 1990 at the entrance of the Cape Cod Canal and sustains a 155 feet gash under water. Returns to service after repairs.

The Enchanted Isle late in her career.
Commodore decides on rebranding all their ships with the pre-fix enchanted and so the ship I renamed in September 1990 in Enchanted Isle. (Measurements: 23,395 Brt., 5,472 Nrt. 8,706 Dwt. 731 passengers and 325 crew) On 17 April 1993 the ship leaves San Diego for the last time to start a 16 night Panama Canal cruise and then sails empty from Miami to St. Petersburg to be used as an Hotelship called Commodore Hotel. Before it arrives there, it is deployed on 9 Baltic Cruises under the banner of Baltic Lines (managers are Eff- John) The first cruise starting on 28 May. For the ship retains its white hull but in a Gdansk shipyard the shipboard power adapted to the European standard of 220 volts (instead of 110 volts) Manned by a Polish crew. The ship arrives in St. Petersburg on 24 September 1993 and will remain there until 21 August 1994. As an hotel is was docked on the river Neva in downtown St Petersburg, offering 375 rooms with pricing starting at $ 140,– a night.

It continues to operate as a floating hotel but now in Bremerhaven where it is temporarily used to house British workmen employed on the refit of the Queen Elizabeth 2. Upon completion the ship returns to cruising in the Caribbean under the previous name of Enchanted Isle. On 26 December the ship suffers a 15 hour long black out and has to be towed into San Juan, Puerto Rico. Back in service on 1 February 1995 with Bridgetown Town Barbados as the homeport for cruises in the South Caribbean.

Then on 30 December 2000, Commodore suspends all operations and files for bankcrupty. The ITF union had the ship arrested on behalf of the crew for outstanding fines. Also Silja of Sweden is still owned $ 3.7 mln. of outstanding payments for the vessel. The ship is laid up at Violet in Louisiana. At an auction on 6 December 2001 in New Orleans, Effjohn, the mortgage holder buys the ship back for a little over $2.6 million. A new company is started up, World Explorer Cruises Ltd., and the ship is to be renamed in Universe Ambassador with a registration for Hemisphere Cruises and Tours. Plans are to operate the ship in Alaska in the summer and in Central America in the winter. This World Explorer Cruises Ltd. was formed by Finnish firm Silja Line and a group of private investors which acquired the ship on a lease/purchase arrangement from Eff-john.

Nothing comes of these plans and on 25 October 2001, the ship departs from Violet at 12.20 pm. With a crew of 28 on board it is heading for the scrap yard in Alang, India under her final name of New Orleans. The ship arrives there on 4 December and is beached on the 9th for the start of the demolition.

Last updated: 06 March 2024


  1. I was on that ship .I like it alot .Thanks

    Mr Veendam

  2. We were on the last cruise of the Enchanted Isle, Christmas, 2000.
    The ship was supposed to be seized in Jamaica, but fortunately
    the Captain got us aboard and we left in a hurry. Got back to
    New Orleans and we knew there was a problem when no one
    was allowed to leave the ship, especially the crew. My wife
    calls it the “cruise from hell”. The main reason that Commodore
    went bankrupt was that they were in partnership with a San Diego
    Indian casino that was running a ship from San Diego to
    Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Commodore supplied the ship and most
    of the money for refurbishment but unfortunately they could not
    tie up at the pier in Rosarito. The pier could not handle the
    size and tonnage of the gambling ship, so both Commodore and
    the Indian casino abandoned the enterprise. Unfortunately,
    Commodore went broke.

  3. Past Passenger

    June 28, 2008 at 6:07 am

    I was a passenger on Volendam II (Veendam III’s sister ship) in 1980. Classic lines, plenty of room, and good service (back when Holland America was it’s own company).
    The cookie cutter “box-ships” of today don’t have half of the character that either of these ships did, it’s a shame.

  4. Homer P. Taguiwalo

    July 5, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Correction on last paragraph: The SS Enchanted Isle (by then renamed New Orleans) left Violet, Louisiana at 12:20 pm on October 25, 2003 (not 2001 as noted). It arrived at Alang on December 4th of the same year, and beached at 12:30 am on the 9th. (Source: http://moore-mccormack.com/)

  5. Jeffrey Hutton

    April 15, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I have a 8x 12 Pitchure of my grandparents Carl & Myrtle Holter stand by the bow of the Holland American liner Veendam which is the Echanted Isle now, the ship took them to Alaska in 1980.
    I’m glad to see the ship is still in use.

  6. The cruiseliner Veendam was taken by the U.S. Treasury agent and the U.S. Customs agent and an American Embassy Barbados official from Grenada to Martinique and Barbados the evening of 13 March 1979.

    IS THIS POSSIBLE? Was there more than one Veendam vessel?

    Ann Elizabeth Wilder
    http://www.thegrenadarevolutiononline.com [working on a chronology]

    • Yes there was. Veendam III indicates the 3rd Veendam of the name. We also have a fifth statendam and a sixth rotterdam.
      First veendam was from 1890 the 2nd from 1922, the 3rd from 1973 and the current one from 1996.

      thank you for reading my blog.

      Captain albert

  7. My first cruise was a W. Caribbean cruise from Tampa in 1982. My 14 year old self thought the ship was massive. Compared to todays monsters on the waves she is tiny. Great memories and a love of cruising was created by this ship.

  8. Edmund Squire

    July 1, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I cruised to Bermuda in October 1979 on the”Volendam, formerly”Brasil” 1958 and the “Veendam” as Enchanted Isle”, formerly “Argentina” 1958. This was a reunion cruise for former crew and Moore Mc’Cormack Lines shore side employees. This was out of New Orleans to the Caribbean in 1997. Still was a great ship and a lot of good memories. When these ships were new in the 1950’s, I had the good fortune to be aboard them. The last time I saw them was while working for Prudential Grace Lines. I was with the former “Santa Rosa”(1958) during her last dry docking as an American cargo/ passenger ship in Maryland Shipyard, Baltimore MD., when I saw the “Brasil” and “Argentina” laid up side by side. There were also three brand new semi container ships built 1969 for Moore McMcormack “Mormacsea, “Mormacstar” and “Mormacsun” meant for their Scandanavian Service that was discontinued the same year. This great American shipping Line was about to go broke, til the sale of “Brasil” and “Argentina” to Holland America Line in 1971. The sale of these fine ships did keep Moore McCormack Lines in business a few years longer til 1983, when taken over by U.S. Lines.

    • Thank you for your comment and for reading my blog.
      I sailed myself on the Volendam in 1982 and 1983, and I really liked the ship, spacious and the deck officers
      had their cabins on a little island behind the bridge, far away from everybody else, especially from the Captain and the Staff Captain so we could throw parties there without being interrupted.
      Yes, the demise of Moore McCormack was said, but as so many companies it could not make the transition to containerization and/or to the cruise business. Holland America had to make a choice as well and went cruising.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  9. I sailed on this ship as a single with a couple of friends in about 1982. (Holland America Veendam) This was my first cruise. The ship felt huge but by todays standards was pretty small. The three of us along with about a total of 9 singles had a ball. We sailed into Hamilton Bermuda from NY. I am just back from a Caribbean/ Bermuda cruise from NY . We had as much fun on this beautiful ship as we did on the massive Anthem of the Seas. Thanks for the history of this ship. Ships keep getting bigger!

  10. I sailed on VEENDAM from (a frigid) Dundalk in Baltimore on a Christmas cruise in the ’70’s. The run down the Chesapeake to the open ocean took hours. My folks had booked what was called an interior cabin AFT but when we boarded found this cabin had aft facing windows and was one of the newly refit staterooms – quite large and beautiful. I also recall her deep draft kept us stable. My brothers and I had a large outside stateroom on an upper deck which was not yet refit and had some of the charm and old-world style from the Moore McCormack days…Funny story, when we were in St. Thomas Volendam was docked in front and two ladies boarded our ship – without electronic sail and sign, they sailed with us unknowing they were on the wrong ship as passengers on, oops, the Volendam. Thank you Captain.

  11. George Hay Kain III

    November 12, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    My wife and I took our honeymoon onboard Veendam (III) in February 1981. She was a great ship, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely on the trip. Thanks for the memories.

  12. Charles Lindell

    March 24, 2021 at 2:06 am

    So glad to find this history. My first cruise of fifty five was NYC to Hamilton in 1981 on the Veendam. The best of my cruises. This boarding for me was a CLIA
    seminar at sea for travel agency owners. About twenty of us. Loved the wonderful treatment given by HAL. HAL is still my cruise line of choice.

  13. My first Cruise was transatlantic in 1966 onthe SS United States and have cruised every year since . My parents took me for my “Sweet 16th Birthday” on the Veendam III “Maiden World Voyage in 1974. I found my commemorative plate and post cards from the sailing. My parents said it sailed out of Baltimore , but I do not remember many other details…length of Cruise, etc. trying to put a timeline together of all my Cruises. Any assistance would be appreciated.
    Thank you!!

    HAL Cruises in 2020 & 2021 were cancelled, so booked several on the new Rotterdam for 2022.

    • Captain Albert

      July 18, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      Thank you for your comment. The Veendam took over the world cruise which was normally made by the Rotterdam as the bookings post oil crisis and other Middle East issues were not so great. The ship officially commenced the cruise from New York, but it had ended the previous cruise in Baltimore so guests could and did board n Baltimore instead of travelling down to New York. The Veendam left Baltimore on 17 January arrived in New York on 18 January and sailed for the world cruise on 19 January. Calling at FT. Lauderdale – Rio de Janeiro – Cape Town – Durban – Mombasa – Bombay – Cochin – Colombo – Singapore – Bangkok – Hong Kong – Cheju – Pusan – Kobe – Yoko – Honolulu – Hilo – Los Angeles – Acapulco – Panama Canal – FT. Lauderdale – New York ( 17 April)
      I hope this helps

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

      • Went on the maiden voyage from Rotterdam to Cobh bay as a small vessel linked up in the bay with some Irish passengers. As I remember we hit some really bad weather somewhere between an 8 and 9 When we arrived in the Hudson we had a fire boat welcomes

      • Took the 1973 maiden voyage on the Veendam left Rotterdam to NY hit some pretty bad weather. Got a fire boat welcome in the Hudson

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