- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

18 October 2019: At Sea.

As was expected, the bad weather passing the New York area did not really affect us and the ship was travelling very quietly with no movement what so ever. And that is the way we like it. Cruise ship weather. It was not cruise ship weather completely as it was overcast but the winds were following winds and thus 18 knots less in velocity on the ship than what was really out there. Thus people could be on the outside decks with only feeling a gentle breeze while the real wind was 35 knots or so. Continue reading

17 October 2019; New York, USA.

We had a bit of a bumpy night and a slightly moving ship. What “slightly” was depended on the view of the guests as some spoke of a heavy storm and some dismissed it as an occasional “bump”. I have been assigned a cabin above the Azipods this time and the only thing I had to do was to move the coat hangers in the closet as they rattled on occasion. That is not a regular ships noise and thus it will wake me up. We did have quite a bit of wind during the night with gusts to over 60 knots but as we were heading into the first arrival of the storm, the storm had not been able to generate very high waves and thus the ship did not provide the roller coaster ride, something some guests had been afraid of. Continue reading

16 October 2019; Newport Rhode Island, USA.

By 10 am this morning we were at anchor at Newport. Further out than we really liked as the Riviera had the best spot because she had arrived earlier.  It was sunny but there was a strong breeze blowing, stronger than we had hoped for as the wind was only supposed to get really going in the early evening. Referring to my blog of yesterday: the weather was not really organized. Still the circumstances were good enough to operate a tender service and thus the ship got things on the road. We had even drafted in a local tender, the Amazing Grace and later another on, the Katharine, to cover the long tender distance as good as possible. Still it was slow going for a while, due to the tender distance but also due to the wind which forced the tenders to be extra careful. But still it worked. Continue reading

15 October 2019: Boston, USA.

The weather turned out to be as forecast although it took the wind a few hours this morning to get in synch with the predicted wind in the weather forecast. But by 10 am. it managed to do so and from then on all was well in the world. As a Japanese friend of my once said, things have to be organized and lined up nicely; otherwise you get confusion. Maybe that is why I have been going through life confused most of the time as the weather is seldom well organized and as a sailor you live very close to the weather. Continue reading

14 October 2019, Portland Maine, USA.

It is a tight schedule to make if you want to get to Portland from Halifax at a decent time and we could not be docked earlier than 11.00 hrs. and we just made it; with only minutes to spare. A late morning arrival is nice as it gives everybody the chance to see the ship sailing in; and sailing into Portland is nice. People go to the Canadian Maritimes for the Fall foliage but you can also take a sightseeing trip around Portland Harbor as the woods around the natural inlet were a riot of color. Arriving later has a negative side as well, as we were coming from Canada and thus everybody had to go through CPB immigration inspection. How fast that goes depends on how many officers there are available for the clearance and secondly if the CBP Supervisor allows those who have seen the CBP to go directly ashore, while the rest is still being cleared. That can vary from port to port and in some places the CBP only clears the ship once everybody has been seen. Today there were sufficient Officers available and the guests who had been seen were allowed off. Kudos to the CBP. They did the job they had to do, but they worked with the ship to give all a guests a good first impression of Portland. The sunshine did the rest. Continue reading

13 October2019; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

We had a bit of a bumpy ride last night but not as bad as was forecast. Today we had a dry day but the promised sun did not materialize and the wind blowing was much stronger and colder than predicted. Maybe because it is the 13th. today, the weather guru’s had a day off. Or what they say most of the time, the weather pattern did not follow the prediction of the computer model. These sort of things always remind me of the weather predicting capabilities of one of my uncles. He used to look at the sky and would then say, “Well if the weather does not change, I am sure it will remain dry today”. Sometimes his computer predicting model was off and it rained cats and dogs a few hours later. Continue reading

12 October 2019; Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada.

We had a miserable and overcast day today and most guests, who were not on tour, did not venture any further than the cruise terminal where they could pick up a few local souvenirs or listen to fiddle concerts.  What was special was that I have never seen it so busy in Sydney, in all the years that I have been coming here with the ships. And that goes back to the early 1990’s we had a few visits here with the old ss Rotterdam. Today we had four cruise ships in. The Zuiderdam alongside, the Norwegian Dawn (who had followed us from Charlottetown) at the nearest anchorage, then the Riviera at the middle anchorage and far, far way a Silversea. The last one did not tender into the cruise terminal area but to a small local pier and had a shuttle service from there. The poor people of the Riviera (Oceana Cruises) had a long tender ride in the cold and the miserable rain. Although Oceana is supposed to be a notch better than Holland America (rated close to Seabourn) you had better sail with us, as at least we dock. Seniority rights do make a difference sometimes. Continue reading

11 October 2019; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

We had very good weather for the time of the year and while in port the guests could see the trees changing color all around the ship.  With us in port and at anchor was the Norwegian Dawn and thus we had about 4500 cruise guests ashore to enjoy Prince Edward Island. Although only an island it is big enough to handle this number of visitors without it feeling too crowded.  And as the sun shone all day, the place should have been full with happy campers. Continue reading

October 10 2019, St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada.

Today we spent the whole day at sea and for most of the day we could see Canada on both on sides of us. Yesterday afternoon we sailed from Quebec at 1700 hrs. and for the first 3 hours we had some beautiful views of the autumn foliage on the river banks; one of the reasons we are here.

Holland America Line stock photo.  But this is roughly what we saw on departure. Just less dense.

Once autumn really arrives and the trees start changing colors, there is a riot of red, yellow, auburn, dark brown to be seen while the tree trunks remain green. If you can see it, it is very beautiful. But there is always a gamble. If the area has a good Indian summer then the temperature remains relatively high and then white clouds descend down to the water and the guests only see something while in port when the fog burns away. Now we have been lucky that the temperatures remain at all times under 16oc/61oF and that seems just low enough to keep good visibility. Unfortunately it is late in the season so by 8 pm. it is dark. Continue reading

09 October 2019: Quebec, Canada.

And thus real life started again as I boarded the good ship Zuiderdam yesterday in Quebec. The Zuiderdam is too tall to go under the bridge just north of Quebec and thus cannot make it to Montreal and hence stays 2 days in Quebec. Earlier this year I was on the Zaandam and that ship does fit under but only with normal water levels. At Quebec the St. Lawrence River is still tidal and with high water spring and/or heavy rain fall or melting snow upstream, the water table can also be too high for the R class or even the S class. The Zaandam also had to do a turn over at Quebec in the beginning of this season before the river level dropped sufficiently and the ship could make it to Montreal. For the Zuiderdam there is no option at all and thus the ship stays in Quebec. Not that many people will be complaining as Quebec is one of our highest guest-rated ports. Thus I could board yesterday in Quebec and today the ship was still there as today is turn over day and the ship starts a new voyage. Voyage 693 to be exact. Continue reading

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