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Sailing away: Onboard Nieuw Statendam with Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, Captain Sybe de Boer and President Holland America Line Orlando Ashford onstage during the Holland America Line and Nieuw Statendam Dedication. Photo Credit: Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Holland America

Sailing away: Onboard Nieuw Statendam with Oprah Winfrey

Sailing away: Onboard Nieuw Statendam with Oprah Winfrey

By Michael McHugh, MiNDFOOD Editor-in-Chief

Would you like to fly to Fort Lauderdale and attend the dedication ceremony of the Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam, where the godmother of the ship, Oprah Winfrey, will be in attendance and launch the ship? Umm? Well, I guess I could?

In truth it was a very easy and quick decision to make. So there I was in Fort Lauderdale, making my way to the port where this gleaming new ship was ready to party. The ship itself is impressive, with revitalised restaurants and great music and entertainment options, comfortably accommodating over 2,660 guests.

My first sighting of Oprah onboard was in the restaurant where she and her family were eating lunch. And then there she was at the dedication ceremony, where at times I felt like I was part of a church revival congregation as the crowd were up on their feet cheering and waving – and Oprah played along. She talked of being very present, of living a connected life, of feeling the best she has ever felt, and of course how much she loved her association with Holland America Line. She had just spent the last few days on board with her friend Gayle King, as well as 2,666 readers from the Oprah magazine, where apparently the tickets sold out in 18 hours. The cruise had many ‘Oprah’ moments. There was morning yoga and an ‘O’ book club, talks and lectures that she gave, and even a shop with all of ‘O’s Favourite Things’. On the last night she hosted a pyjama party, where she laughed and danced and handed out shots and “had the best time of her life”.

Sitting there watching the dedication ceremony as Oprah smashed the bottle of champagne over the ship, at one stage I thought she was going to give everyone in the audience a car. But no. No car, just a beautiful ship to celebrate the launch, where I met new friends and enjoyed great food, drink and music, and made memories for a lifetime. Which is pretty much what cruising is all about.

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