This blog entry was written by Trisha Carter, who has been working with me while onboard this sailing.
Meet Vera Hutasoit – Restroom Attendant onboard the Statendam.
(Holland America only relatively recently began introducing female restroom attendants onboard its fleet of ships. This story is about one of the first participants in this new program.)
“I am very happy and proud to feel that I am representing the women of Indonesia,” said Vera Hutasoit, one of the first hired in a new program for Holland America Line. Long known for its wonderful Filipino and Indonesian crew members, HAL has only recently begun hiring female Indonesians as part of their housekeeping staff – which has historically been all male. Onboard the Statendam, Vera is part of a two-women team who are known as restroom attendants to us, but as “the toilet ladies” among themselves. Rest assured, far from being an insult, this is a title of honor to these Indonesian women.
Vera states that ever since high school it has been her dream to work for the Holland America Line. Two years ago, she saw that dream become a reality when she was offered the opportunity to be among the first female Indonesians hired by the Line’s housekeeping department.
Vera spent two months at Holland America’s state-of-the-art training facility known as the m.s. Nieuw Jakarta. There she shared a “cabin” within this mock up of a live cruise ship with another friend who had been hired in the same capacity. It was here that she learned the ins and outs of her new job, while also being indoctrinated into daily life onboard a modern cruise ship. Her days onboard the Niew Jakarta were full, learning not only her job duties, but also working on her English language skills. She also had to learn how to interact with passengers, along with the various cultural norms she would encounter among Holland America’s many guests.
As part of her training, she lived at the training facility during the week, returning to her home only on the weekends. It was only after successfully completing her training that she was assigned to her first contract, onboard the m.s. Oosterdam. Vera is currently serving her second contract with Holland America, this one on the Statendam, and she seems to be loving every minute of it.
Vera’s love for working onboard the ships of Holland America may have something to do with the fact that she met her husband, Mario, while onboard the Oosterdam. Mario is now the Statendam’s Controller and the two of them make an incredibly cute couple. They are clearly a happy one as well.
Vera raves about Holland America and how they go out of their way to accommodate married couples working onboard their ships. “They make sure we are assigned to the same ship, and they coordinate our contracts to run together. We are assigned a cabin together as well.”
Of their relationship, Vera says it was love at first sight and right now they are in the process of building a lovely home in Lombok, Indonesia. When asked for details about their new home, Mario proudly pulled out detailed drawings of the modest single-family dwelling, complete with two bedrooms, a modern bath, kitchen and parlor area.
Two bedrooms? When asked about her future and the possibility of babies, Vera’s face lights up and she positively beams. “One day I will stay at home and have Mario’s babies,” she said. However, this won’t happen until the time is right.
Vera is a middle child, and the only girl. Her older brother is married, while her younger one is currently enrolled in college. So, for now at least Vera must continue working to help pay for his college education. “We come from a very close knit family,” she stated, “and we help each other whenever we can.” Mario, too, is helping to finance his younger brother’s college education.
When asked about their future plans, Vera got a dreamy look in her eyes and stated that one day she and her husband hope to have a tourist-related business back home. But for now they are happy working onboard the ships of Holland America and building their future one day at a time. “HAL has been really great to us,” she stated. “They have been teaching us both valuable job skills, as well as helping us to improve our English. Working for the cruise line allows us to learn what it is that tourists expect when they are on vacation, so that we can learn to provide it, and provide it well.”
And if learning how to please tourists is one of Vera’s goals, she couldn’t have chosen a better teacher than Holland America, well known for their stellar passenger service. “That’s why working for HAL was always my dream,” Vera stated. “The same as it has been the dream of many of my friends. I was just lucky enough to have my dream come true,” she added, with a shy smile. Her husband, Mario, just looked at her and beamed.