Holland America Line

Service Dog Receives Holland America’s Five-Star Mariner Status

Photo: Holland America Line
Aboard Rotterdam VII, we’re all just barking mad…for Joska!
This morning, shortly after Rotterdam VII sailed under overcast skies into New York City following Holland America’s 150th Anniversary crossing, the line’s President Gus Antorcha and the ship’s captain, Werner Timmers, presented this 10-year-old black Labrador Retriever with the highest honor a Holland America fan can attain:  5-star Mariner status and a Platinum Medallion in recognition of cruising 700 days aboard Holland America.  The canine equivalent of a goodie bag, including a personalized Holland America water bowl and doggie treats, accompanied the presentation of the medallion.
Joska, a registered service dog and among the most well-traveled dogs in the world, began cruising Holland America in 2014 with her Dutch owners, Cornelia “Connie” and Cornelis Marinussen.  She has cruised more than 50 times aboard sailings that called at Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
According to Cornelis, it is only because of Joska that the couple has been able to continue to indulge their passion for cruising and world travel, the dog’s keen abilities allowing Connie to confidently navigate the ships they sail and the ports they visit.  “Joska knows Holland America ships so well,” states Cornelis, “That she can confidently and directly lead us directly back to our ship even in the most crowded port!”
During the ceremony, Holland America president Gus Antorcha stated “Joska is the first service animal to achieve this lofty status and we wanted to honor her with an event that shows how special she is to everyone in our company.  Registered service animals are always welcome aboard Holland America Line ships and Joska has become a member of our family.”  
While Joska seemed quietly touched by Antorcha’s words, it was on Captain Timmers that Joska lavished her greatest affection, leaping up to shower him with a series of enthusiastic doggie kisses while the gleaming platinum medallion hung from the ribbon around her neck.  
Captain Timmers seemed genuinely delighted.

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.