It is hard for me to believe, but that last Christmas marked the 30th anniversary of one of my favorite cruises, Statendam Christmas 1980.
We have scanned and posted many of our memorable photos from that cruise. You can find it in our Cruise Talk photo gallery
It is hard to say why this cruise stand out as so special, but I think that it is probably a combination of the wonderful crew, intimate smaller ship, and the wonderful fellow passengers. My parents chose this cruise out of Miami because they had always heard how wonderful the Holland America line was in terms of service and atmosphere. While they were actually younger than the typical Holland America demographic, which even today is mostly retired folks, they had heard that Christmas cruises often had more families.
We were thrilled from the moment we boarded the ship. Though this ship wasn’t particularly new or modern, the crew made us feel right at home. The staff seemed to pay attention to the details that make a cruise feel special. It is hard to remember the specifics about the food and meals, but I do remember that we were never disappointed.
The ship had one main lounge that served as both the dance lounge, informational gathering place, and the evenings entertainment venue. We enjoyed listening to the “Big Band” music and watching the variety shows here that included Broadway reviews, comedians and a showman violinist. Mostly we enjoyed meeting our fellow passengers before and after dinner.
Perhaps it was these wonderful fellow passengers that made this cruise so much fun. Many extended families with young people ages 13-30, lovely older grandmotherly type ladies, and multiple generations enjoying each-other’s company. Some of the young men were very kind to my sister and I, asking us to ballroom dance with them on the big dance floor. We often joined other families on the excursion to the different towns and beaches. While the young people had a large group, Holland America had no formal teen program at the time. What that meant was that we were included in all events, and expected to act very grown up. By the time we all got dressed up for dinner and then were treated like adults by the staff and crew, we knew we that it was more appropriate to act like young adults, rather than silly teens.
As I look back on this cruise, I sometimes wonder where and how all those people we met on this cruise are doing. We did actually cruise with many of the same passengers the following year on a reunion cruise on the Sitmar Christmas cruise. We truly enjoyed cruising with many of these wonderful nice families again, however that cruise was not nearly memorable, perhaps because of the larger ship and exclusion of teens from some of the evening activities. Surely, some of these fellow passengers are now married cruising with their own kids. My parents still enjoy cruising and travel now that they are retirement age. For me perhaps because of such a memorable cruise, I’ll always have cruising at the top of my list of vacation choices.