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CRUISE VIEWS

New Luxury Liner Statendam Arrives in L.A. : Holland America's 1,266- passenger vessel will compete in the upscale cruise market. Two sister ships near completion.

February 07, 1993|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

Holland America Line's new 1,266-passenger Statendam, the fifth ship to carry that name for the 120-year-old company, is scheduled for its maiden arrival in Los Angeles on Wednesday at the end of its inaugural cruise.

After several days of travel agent and media functions in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, the ship will sail from Los Angeles next Sunday through the Panama Canal and on to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The newest Statendam will sail from New York May 7 for a sold-out, 35-day "Grand Europe Cruise" to London, followed by a series of Baltic and Mediterranean cruises.

The first of three new ships ordered for Holland America Line from Italy's Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, the 55,451-ton Statendam appears to be designed to compete in the upper end of the luxury market with Crystal Cruises' Crystal Harmony and the Royal Viking Sun. Sister ship Maasdam is due to arrive in December, and the Ryndam in December, 1994.

All the cabins on the ship are spacious, each with its own sitting area and enough closet and drawer space to keep passengers content on an around-the-world cruise (which the ship will be making in 1994). The smallest cabins measure 187 square feet.

The first Holland America ship to offer private balconies, the Statendam has a 1,123-square-foot penthouse suite with separate living room, bedroom, huge balcony, dressing room, big-screen TV, VCR and compact disc player, marble bath with spa tub and shower with steam bath.

Some 28 suites and 120 deluxe staterooms also offer private balconies. Extras in the penthouse and suites include stocked minibars, refrigerators, a butler who delivers hot hors d'oeuvres daily, terry-cloth robes and free laundry and dry cleaning throughout the cruise.

A large spa includes a gymnasium, aerobics room, sauna, steam and massage rooms, beauty salon and fresh juice bar.

While the overall ambience is genteel and elegant, almost decorous, in traditional Holland America style, several areas will dazzle a younger upscale audience almost equally.

Vincent van Gogh's masterpieces "A Starry Night (St.-Remy)" and "Irises" were the thematic inspiration in the show lounge. A glittering stage curtain repeats the colors and motifs of "A Starry Night," flanked by side panels in tiny glass mosaic tiles depicting the swirling night sky from the painting. Custom-woven carpet, stained-glass lampshades and huge iris door handles cast in bronze carry out the "Irises" theme.

A top-deck disco salutes artist Piet Mondrian with bright geometric designs in the sofas and carpeting, plus six colors and various patterns of Italian marble.

In the two-deck Rotterdam dining room, window walls admit light on three sides; a musicians' balcony holds a string trio that entertains during dinner, and a ceiling covered with 1,000 morning glory light fixtures in frosted Venetian glass is computer-programmed to provide various light levels.

A $2-million collection of 17th-Century art from the Netherlands and the Dutch East and West Indies, along with rich materials such as marble, wood and polished brass, add an opulent air to the ship. California artist Helen Webber contributed stained-glass panels and wood triptychs and British sculptor Susanna Holt created the bronze leaping dolphins that ornament the Lido deck pool.

But the centerpiece, literally, is a 26-foot-high Italianate fountain with mermaids, dolphins and shells at the entry level in a three-deck atrium with curving stairways all around.

The new Statendam is a far cry from the first one back in 1898, a 10,000-ton vessel built in Belfast that carried 375 first- and second-class passengers across the Atlantic to the United States, along with 1,000 immigrants who traveled in steerage for $10 apiece.

By 1908, the line decided that that ship was outmoded and contracted for a new Statendam, which was still under construction when Great Britain leased it as a troop ship in 1914. In 1918, a German U-boat sank the vessel before it ever carried civilian passengers.

The third Statendam was ordered in 1921, but was only delivered in 1929 after countless delays and a contract with a second shipyard. One of the glamorous, gilded liners of the 1930s transatlantic crossings, the ship was laid up in Rotterdam when World War II broke out in Europe, and was bombed and destroyed by the Nazis in 1940.

In the late 1950s, the fourth Statendam was built for world cruising and transatlantic crossings, but the arrival of jet aircraft in the mid-1960s heralded the end of most transatlantic sailings, and it was converted to a warm-weather cruise ship. Holland America operated the vessel until 1982, but it is still in service today as Regency Cruises' Regent Star.

Passengers booking a Baltic sailing before March 1 will get a 10% discount off the published fare, while Mediterranean cruises booked before May 1 also qualify for a 10% discount.

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