'Oosterdam' makes debut call today, the 75th visit of the HAL fleet

Holland America Line cruise ships were introduced to Port Chalmers with the arrival of Maasdam on October 21, 1994.

Today, Oosterdam makes its local debut when it arrives from Sydney, via Hobart. The ship is the largest unit of the fleet to berth here and its visit will also be the 75th from nine units of the fleet.

After closing the Alaska cruise ship season towards the end of last month, Oosterdam sailed from Vancouver on a voyage down through the Pacific to Sydney to take its place in the annual Australia-New Zealand market.

Scheduled to make eight visits up to April 5, 2013, the 82,305gt Oosterdam replaces the smaller 61,214gt Volendam.

The best-known of all our HAL visitors, this popular ship made 34 calls between October 31, 2008, and April 3, 2012.

Oosterdam is a Panamax vessel having an overall length of 285.24m, an extreme breadth of 32.25m and a loaded draught of 8.016 m. The ship has 11 passenger decks, 1968 berths in 924 cabins, and carries a crew of 817.

It has a maximum speed of 24 knots and a service speed of 22 knots. Powering its two azimuth electric-drive units are five Sulzer Vee-cylinder diesels, three 16-cylinder units and two 12-cylinder ones, plus a General Electric gas turbine. Total power from this installation is 102,162hp (75.140kW).

Oosterdam was laid down at Fincantieris Marghera shipyard at Venice on January 18, 2002.

The ship was officially christened by HRH Princess Margriet, of the Netherlands, when it visited Rotterdam from July 27 to July 29, 2003, a visit that also coincided with celebrations marking HAL's 130th birthday.

The ship was also the second Vista class vessel to be built to a design originally created for HAL. Derivative designs from this are the enlarged Vista, Signature and Hybrid Vista/Spirit classes.

Eleven ships representing these designs are now part of the Carnival group's portfolio.

Oosterdam will be the second Vista class ship to berth here.

P&O Cruises Arcadia, the third to enter service, was here on February 20, 2010, and is listed to call again next year on March 4.

The 90.901gt Queen Elizabeth, here earlier this year on February 23, on a visit marred by atrocious, wet conditions, is a longer Signature class vessel having an extra deck.

The state-owned Fincantieri shipbuilding group has been a world leader in cruise ship construction since 1990. Since then, its yards have built more than 60 cruise ships and have others on order for delivery over the next three years.

Of the Carnival group's 100-strong fleet, 54 vessels, including 13 that have called here, have come from Fincantieri yards. Dawn Princess, on its 28th call, opened the season yesterday following the cancellation of the visit by Sea Princess a fortnight ago, due to weather conditions at Akaroa.

These sisters were built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard in 1997 and 1998.

And the ill-fated 114,317gt Costa Concordia that capsized after striking a rock at Giglio, off Tuscany, on January 13, was delivered from its Sestri Ponente yard at Genoa, in 2008.

Final salvage operations for the removal of the wreck began a fortnight ago. The largest refloating salvage operation in history, it is being undertaken by the US firm Titan Salvage and the Italian company Micoperi.

The work will involve 350 men and 100 divers, and is estimated to cost in the region of $US300 million ($NZ365 million).

Although it would have been easier to cut up the vessel to remove it, this was ruled out due to the environmental risks it posed.

Fincantieri yards will also play a part, having been awarded a contract to build 30 caissons having a total weight of 11,500 tonnes. Some of these will be attached to the exposed port side then filled with water and with help from other equipmemt will get the vessel upright.

Once this is accomplished, caissons will be fitted to the starboard side, filled with water, thus prompting the ship to refloat by early next year. It will then be towed away for demolition.

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