News Articles

Illustrious shipping company opens European head office

HAL returns to Rotterdam

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ROTTERDAM - The Holland America Line (HAL), once the most famous shipping company in Rotterdam, known for ships with names such as Rotterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Ryndam, Maasdam and Statendam, is returning to Rotterdam after a decades-long absence.

Now U.S.-owned as a subsidiary of the Carnival cruising giant, HAL plans to open a European head office in the Montevideo tower at the Wilhelmina pier.

Rotterdam Mayor Ivo Opstelten welcomed the news, calling the company the pride of Rotterdam. The decision also means that its flagship, the s.s. Rotterdam, will call on the port again, according to the enthusiastic official.

By setting up European headquarters, HAL is meeting an ever increasing competition for the European cruising tourist. Although most cruise ships are still filled with North Americans, the number of Europeans who take a cruise has also been growing in recent years.

HALís Rotterdam head office will include a sales and marketing department that specifically will focus on the European cruising market. Currently, this is still being handled via travel agents from its head office in Seattle, Washington. A number of Carnivalís competitors have set up their own operations in Europe in the hunt for cruising tourists in new markets.

The HAL moved its head office to the United States in 1978. The company has never been away from the port of Rotterdam completely and still employs several hundreds of Dutch people on its thirteen cruise ships. To maintain its staffing core, the HAL all along maintained a small office known as HAL Beheer bv human resources in the Rotterdam suburb of Spijkenisse. The Dutch office consisted of three departments: personnel, technical purchasing and fleet operations. The technical parts are purchased in Europe because all HAL ships are built by European shipyards. The Spijkenisse office will also move to the European head office in Rotterdam at the beginning of March.

Altogether, the HAL employs 15,000 people and traditionally has hired Dutch and British nautical officers for its executive positions on its ships. Currently, it employs about 350 Dutch captains, navigating officers, engineers as well as hotel personnel on the cruise ships through HAL Beheer.