One of the issues during a new building always is, where does the new owner come in, what is the company allowed to do and where does the yard = the ship-owner, say Stop and keep your hands off my property. A simple example is the lifeboats; we do not get our hands on them until the ship is taken over as the yard does not want to have any damage. Thus during inspections the boats are handled by yard people but we cannot use them to go tramping around Marghera.
At the same time, the ship has to be started up and made ready and most of the items installed on board are “Owner Provided” and thus the yard has to give permission for company technicians to start tinkering around in the ship. Hence we already have IT network specialists in situ for starting up the connectivity between the ships computer servers and the rest of the ship. And a very good example is the Casino. All wiring and pedestals are all Shipyard supplied and installed. The machines come from Carnival in Miami which is Holland America’s Casino Concession. Those machines have to be connected and once the yard has supplied the correct electrical cable for the power supply, the rest is up to the Casino technicians. They need nearly a month to get the whole Casino going as the machines nowadays are very complicated and network connected. The days that you just plugged a slot machine in (Fruit Machine in the English Language) and started to push buttons are long gone. The technique now ensures that a player is protected against malfunctioning and some machines are also connected to other slot machines under the Concessions Control. So the jack pot is not limited to the maximum of one ship. We see on the ship regularly photos on display with a lucky guest receiving 50 or 60K in dollars due to a combined fleet wide pay out.
Another thing that takes much time is delivering everything to USPH standards. Every country has its own health standards and every country does it differently. Most countries have a point system and you have to reach a minimum score to pass the minimum standards. This does not mean that you are not safe and hygienic if you would fail, it just indicates that there is a higher chance that you would not, if you do not score the minimum because there might be a lot more wrong than what the Inspector found. While at the shipyard, Holland America invites USPH (United States Public Health) over for construction inspections; apart from what the Hotel Staff does themselves. These are not operational inspections as there is not yet anybody cooking and serving food but pure equipment construction compliance inspections. Part of the contract with the yard is that the yard guarantees that the ship will be delivered “to the satisfaction of the Inspector”. To get to that level takes some doing as not every Italian pipe fitter, and electrician or other installer is fully aware what USPH wants. Thus there is a 3 day inspection cycle which generates a work list and all the details get corrected then. Good examples are the pools and Jacuzzi’s on board. There are construction requirements for temperature, water flow, water cleaning and the min & max of the chlorine level. We invite USPH over, as for 6 months of the year we sailing from the USA and have to comply with their rules. If we were permanently sailing in other parts of the world that would not be necessary but the USPH standards are in general high enough that we do not have do too much extra or different to comply with Dutch, British or Australian rules and to be in compliance with everybody.
Being Holland America means we have our ships registered in Rotterdam, our official home port, where we once began as a small emigrant carrying company back in 1873. So it was good to see that the painters installed the name on the stern of the ship after they had finished touching up the blue hull.
Today was a very nice and sunny day as we expect from an Italian autumn. We should have the same tomorrow but then for the next four days we should have rain and drizzle. Not nice but what is important is that the coming weekend is forecast to be dry again. Important as next Saturday we have to lug all our suitcases up the gangway as we will start living on board.