Three Year Old Child From Holland America Line's Zuiderdam Drowns in Half Moon Cay

A Christmas cruise ended in tragedy when a three year old girl from Holland America Line's Zuiderdam cruise ship reportedly drowned in HAL's private destination Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.   The incident occurred on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, according to a newspaper in the Bahamas.

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Tom Carten - December 28, 2010 11:29 AM

Your headline works it through HAL and the Zuiderdam and I think that's the wrong take. Neither HAL nor the ship was involved, even though they owned the island. Swimming is swimming, water is water, drowning is drowning: the cruise line, the ship and the island in this instance are not relevant. Their presence in the story is not germane to the incident. As a radio newswriter, this is how I would do it:

* * *

A three-year-old girl drowned during a Christmas Eve cruise while swimming at an island resort in the Bahamas, according to a local newspaper, which reported she was in the care of her father. She was found lying face down in shallow waters; an autopsy is scheduled.

[I left out the paper's name, "Elutheran," as it sounds too much like "A Lutheran" and could be confusing on the air.]

Dee - January 4, 2011 1:53 PM

Hi Tom,
Although I can understand your point about this story I was on this cruise with my family and had it not been for those key words I don't believe passengers would have been able to Google this article. As people may or may not know, cruise ships do not communicate things like this to passengers (rightfully so) but word gets around and there was a lot of erroneous information being passed on. After pulling up articles via the web at least the true facts were known.

amber williamson - January 5, 2011 11:19 PM

I was on the Noordam and was at the beach at the time this happened. I had pleaded with my younger brother to rent this private cabana package because he has 4 boys under 15 yrs and the package includes a private life guard. I don't know why the life guard wasn't there and why she wasn't wearing a life jacket (we heard the dad tell the Pediatrician who performed CPR that she was 3 in a month) by the way the pediatrician was a guest on our boat and not a HAL member. I know we can't bring this little angel back but we sure should be able to make sure it never happens again. I spoke to someone in the medical office on our boat and have given our account but have yet to hear back and hope the family has our info. Please don't make it sound like it was the dad's fault if he had indeed hired the private life guard. My husband saw him carry her body back to the cabana and we saw her on the slide. We will never get over the fact that although we called out, we didn't do enough.

We pray for forgiveness.

Tom Roebig - January 7, 2011 6:22 PM

Amber: thank you for your heartfelt words. I have been asked by the family of Hannah to investigate what happened on that day. We would so grateful to communicate with you. You can contact me at

lisa - January 7, 2011 8:30 PM

Amber Williamson (posted comment on 1-5-11) says she was there when it happened, and she said she was on the Noordam. How come the article says the ship was the Zuiderdam? Were two ships together? I don't get why Amber talked to a medical office person on their "boat" when she was on a different "boat" than the little girl's family.

amber - January 7, 2011 10:31 PM

In response to Lisa's comment, we were on the Noordam and the Zuiderdam was also anchored at the same location (which is from what we are told a privately leased island by Holland America) which would explain why no police showed up. If this had happened on other territory would there have been authorities present? As painful as it is for me I just want the truth to be known so we can prevent another death. My family is still struggling to accept what happened and I cannot properly express my sympathy for this family and do not wish to impose any more suffering. The only thing I cling to is that she is with God.

Jim Walker - January 7, 2011 10:48 PM

Thanks Amber for your heartfelt comments and explanation.

Lisa - why look for petty discrepancies in other's tragedies but completely miss the big picture, like the overwhelming loss of this little girl.

Thank you again for your comments and concerns.

Jim Walker

k berg - January 8, 2011 8:10 PM

We were on the Noordam and happened to be on the beach when it the little died. We were all very upset, and have been praying for the family since.

From what I saw Holland America did everything it could to help save the child. They worked on it for a long time. It is my understanding that the family had relatives on both ships. We were told by the island staff that she was from our ship. Which ship was the little girl really on?

On our last full day aboard we saw/heard a woman asking if it was her niece who she had not seen since the first day. They would not tell her after she wrote the name down, but they gave her a free call home.

TORTELVINK - January 19, 2017 9:46 AM

Uit meerder reacties meen ik te kunnen opmaken dat het wel erg Amerikaans is als er iets gebeurt waar men een ander er de schuld van te kunnen geven en staan zij direct klaar met de verantwoordelijkheid af te schuiven.Als je je kind persoonlijk en daad werkelijk aan een ander toevertrouwd dan kun je deze verantwoordelijk houden.Het bijzonder triest dat het meisje is verdronken maar wat zal het verlies en leed verminderen waarschijnlijk Amerikaans met veel dollars.

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