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There are some inaccuracies on this page along with some speculation I hopefully can clear up.
There have been four house flags in the history of HAL. The first was
in use from the founding of the company in 1873 - or at the very least,
from a very early date - and consists of green-white-green horizontal stripes
(the colors of the City of Rotterdam) with
the letters NASM in the white stripe.
NASM of course stands for the original Dutch name of the company, Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij.
The correct image of the NASM-flag is at the site of the British Maritime Museum.
The company became officially known as Holland-Amerika Lijn in 1896 (not 1971 as your page states), however the NASM initials on the house flag remained.
This house flag was replaced in 1971 with the new design, the three
angled stripes on an orange field.
However, these stripes were in fact a turquoise or aqua color rather than blue as is currently depicted on your site. This was the new corporate logo of HAL and was a stylized version of the previous green-white-green stripes, though the green had changed to aqua. This logo is commonly called the "slug" logo as the angled stripes are thought by many to resemble slugs.
The new logo coincided with the cessation after 98 years of the Company's
flagship passenger service between Rotterdam and New York. Henceforth the
passenger operations of the company became known as Holland America Cruises rather than Holland-America Line as they had previously been known in the
English-speaking countries. HAL also continued to operate cargo ships for several years before selling them off in 1975. The new corporate identity was also
applied to these cargo ships, which naturally flew the new house flag.
Your site states that the "slug" house flag lasted only until 1976 when
the company headquarters were moved to the US and the company was renamed
Holland America-Line Westours. In fact, the headquarters were not moved
from Rotterdam to Stamford, CT until 1978.
They moved again to Seattle, WA in 1983 at which point HAL fully integrated their tour subsidiary Westours into the company and renamed themselves Holland America Line-Westours. The headquarters remain in Seattle today, but the Westours name was dropped in 2002.
1983 also brought the demise of the "slug" house flag when, coinciding
with the introduction of the NIEUW AMSTERDAM (III) (1983-2000), the that
logo was replaced by the "NIEUW AMSTERDAM and HALVE MAEN" logo.
This famous logo depicts the former HAL flagship NIEUW AMSTERDAM (II) (1938-1973) towering over Henry Hudson's ship HALVE MAEN ("Half Moon"). It is in fact a logo which was brought back from HAL's past, having been used at least as early as the 1950s and possibly earlier - I am not sure of the exact age of the logo but it is certainly one of the oldest and most-recognized in the cruise industry. For the new house flag, the logo was shown in black and placed on an orange background, as depicted on your page; however the border of the logo should be oblong (as depicted on the later HAL flag) rather than round.
The re-introduction of this old logo was part of an effort on the part of the Company to project a "traditional" image; at the same time they introduced the tag line "Ocean Liner Service" and reverted to calling themselves "Holland America Line" rather than "Holland America Cruises". This was despite the fact that their passenger services continued to consist only of cruises, as they have since 1971. It was, for all intents and purposes, a reversal of the re-branding of 1971 which introduced the "slug" logo and which had attempted to project a "modern" image for the Company. They had realized that tradition sold well to their generally conservative, older clientele and so decided to capitalize on the long history of the company compared with newer rivals that did not have roots in the ocean liner era of the past.
This third house flag survived the takeover of HAL by the Miami-based
Carnival Corporation in 1989 and continued to be used until 2000 when,
coinciding with the introduction of the AMSTERDAM (III) (2000-present),
the present house flag was introduced.
As correctly depicted on your site, the fourth and current house flag depicts of the same "NIEUW AMSTERDAM and HALVE MAEN" logo but now in blue rather than black, and on a background of blue-white-blue horizontal stripes rather than solid orange in the previous house flag.
I should also note that the company is no longer correctly referred to as Holland America Line-Westours but rather simply as Holland America Line. the operations of the Westours subsidiary (operating land tours in Alaska for sale in conjunction with HAL cruises) have been re-branded as Holland America Tours. The Westours brand was generally separate from Holland America Line or Holland America Cruises; though some Alaska products encompassing cruises and land tours were sold under the "Holland America Line-Westours" or "Holland America Westours" brand, it was otherwise merely a corporate name. HAL had bought a minority interest in Westours in 1971 and the remainder of the company in 1977.
Meanwhile, former Dutch owners of HAL still operate an investment firm in the Netherlands, HAL Investments and the original NASM house flag is used as their logo. I am not sure if it is actually flown by HAL Investments (on buildings, perhaps?) but at some events relating to the history of the line, e.g. the christenings of new ships, all four house flags are flown as a tribute to the long history of the Company.
I do not recall exactly when the Westours name disappeared but I believe it was in the early part of this decade. It had been associated with HAL since the 1970s when HAL bought part (later all) of the once-independent tour operator.
Today the fourth HAL house flag continues to fly from all the ships
in the fleet, which number thirteen with the introduction of NOORDAM (IV)
this week. It also flies on land at various HAL properties e.g. Half Moon
Cay, an island in the Bahamas which was purchased by HAL and is now used
exclusively by their passengers.
Doug Newman, 15 Feb 2006
Having just returned from a Caribbean cruise on a HAL ship m.s. Volendam,
I can report that the Holland America Line is currently using the following
is currently the house flag:
the HAL logo (currently portayed on our website--consisting of a stylized portrayal of the New Amsterdam II with one of Hudson's Halve Maen in front) on a field of a horizontal dark blue-white-dark blue triband (instead of orange as shown in our website). I don't have any info as to when the switch from orange to blue-white-blue may have occurred, but there is no question as to the present usage. The house flag was being flown on the ship as well as from a flagpole on the HAL-leased island Half Moon Cay (the latter with Bahamian and Dutch flags)
Norman Martin, 28 Nov 2003
Here is my attempt to fit the description - I found a flag like that
website. According to that website it's a division of the HAL, but
that need not necessarily hold true...
Jarig Bakker, 28 Nov 2003
This is worth further investigation; I cruised with HAL three times
(1997-2000; Westerdam, Veendam, Volendam) and IIRC all three flew the orange
version of the flag. Perhaps they've changed the logo or perhaps they've
reorganized the company internally, possibly by country of registry (Westerdam
is Dutch, the other two Bahamian, I think.).
HAL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines (US) these days.
Albert S. Kirsch, 28 Nov 2003
If Tiemen could provide some ship names from the photos/postcards it
may provide a lead. I cannot find any mention of such a company but it
is possible that it refers to a service and it fits that in October 1889
Holland America incorporated a call at Boulogne with their Amsterdam and
Rotterdam service to New York. At times joint services were operated by
various lines and ships became interchangeable but still retained their
own liveries, particularly after 1902 when the American combine International
Mercantile Marine Co. took over many companies, including Holland America
although by 1917 they had regained their independence.
Neal Rosanoski, 6 Dec 2003
Further detail indicates that the photos and postcards of vessels of
Compagnie France-Hollando-Américaine S.A. were taken whilst they
were acting as tenders to sundry ocean liners and that the flags they were
flying were the houseflags of the liner companies concerned.
Neale Rosanoski, 17 Oct 2004