While touring around Valdez, Alaska, I happened to stop in at the Valdez Museum and took a look at some boats that were outside of the museum. A small wooden boat that looked to be a large rowboat had Prinsendam #4 painted on the side. This greatly intrigued me and lured me into the Valdez Museum to learn the rest of the story.
Surely enough, this is the same Prinsendam from the Holland America fleet. In 1980, that ship caught fire and the captain ordered all to abandon ship. Fortunately, there were no casualties. The city of Valdez received an All-America City designation in 1981 for their efforts and support of the victims of this tragedy.
It’s amazing how much lifeboats have changed since those used in 1980. The boats had no enclosures and no motors; the passengers operated levers to propel the boat through the water.
I have a new appreciation for the lifeboats on board the ships these days.
There were other interesting points about safety standards for cruise ships then. The Prinsendam did not have a sprinkler system, so the fire that started in the engine room engulfed the entire ship. Read more details from this Pittsburgh Press article