- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

02 and 03 January 2009.

After a rainy new years day in Costa Maya we spent a short morning in Roatan. Costa Maya started promising at least according to the weather forecast but when we arrived we saw the dark clouds gathering. During the night the high pressure system above Mexico moved slightly to the North and as a result the rainy part of the frontal system lying off the Caribe could just touch the Cozumel-Costa Maya area. Thus it was a watery day for about 6000 people. Next to us we had the Vision of the Seas who deposited close to 4000 guests ashore with a lot of young people among those. So it was not amazing to see that a lot of our older guests were back onboard fairly early. Too much noise around the pool I suppose.

However Roatan had very good weather. The anchorage was as flat as a mirror and the whole island was bathed in sunshine. I came in very early again to get the tender operation going as early as possible. Last call I found out that the authorities here were willing to pre-clear the ship before they came onboard. As we were now on our second call I could apply for that as well and thus it was arranged. So by 0630 the tenders were up and running and the tours were going ashore. Again we had at least 400 guests on board who were not even bothered to go ashore but it still meant that we had to ferry 900 others off and back on to the ship. As it was nice weather, most of these 900 came back at the very last moment and thus we were delayed by an hour with our departure.

Nothing I could do about it, the tender dock is very small; it can only take one tender at a time and my tenders can only seat comfortably about 80 pax. (See one of my previous blogs) and thus it took some time to get everybody back onboard. At least we had much better weather than the previous cruise. As soon as all were back onboard I put the pedal to the metal as it was a tight schedule back to Tampa. Luckily there is no fog predicted so I do not have to be that early coming into the bay to beat the descending fog.

My last day at sea on the Veendam was a good one. Regular sunny Caribbean weather although a bit on the windy side. I spent most of my day tying up the various loose ends of my contract. If I would get a dollar for each signature that I am asked for during a cruise, I could retire early as a rich man. Today was a bonus day in that regard. But by 1500 my desk was cleared and thus time to pack. This time I was ably supervised by my wife who is able to pack the contents of three suitcases into two, while my way is the other way around. I like to travel light and that means normally one suitcase with uniforms. However this time I am changing ships and so I had to pack a lot more. My steamer trunks with my extra uniforms will be transferred by truck from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale and will be loaded on the Prinsendam on March 23rd. I will follow a month later.

This will be my last blog for a while. During my coming leave I will be changing a few things and hopefully have the time to add a lot of historic material to the blog site.
Also my blog is going in house with Holland America Line. Thus far I was sponsored by the Avid Cruise magazine of Ralph Grizzle but Holland America preferred to have all their bloggers under one roof. Thus somewhere in coming week(s) my blog will be moved over. For the rest everything will remain the same. It is the company’s intention to have each ship run a blog but I will remain an independent blog among the others. A big thank you to Ralph Grizzle for facilitating my blog as he was the one who put the blogging idea in my head in the first place.

Also a big thank you to all of you who having been following my blog. There were days that more than 2000 computers logged on to have a look, so I hope that I have been living up to the expectations of the readers.

If all goes according to schedule I will be on the Prinsendam in late March for week to get a feeling for the ship with docking and undocking. Then I will join her as captain on April 30 in Fort Lauderdale.

Although we left late from Roatan, we will be docking on time in Tampa and thus nobody will be delayed in getting off the ship. It was a good new year’s cruise with 6 days of very nice weather.


  1. Safe trip, Captain. Have a good vacation. I’ll miss reading your blog and look forward to your posts from on board Prinsendam.

  2. Enjoy your time off. I will also look forward to reading your blog on the Prinsendam and your adventures. Best of everything to you.

  3. My husband and I have enjoyed reading your blogs every day and we often laugh over various incidents after we spent a month with you in October and thus know the ship well. We were trying to recognize everyone in the holiday photos.
    You may not thought of your blog as being a way for passengers’ friends and family to follow a cruise. As you know it’s expensive for passengers to use the internet aboard, but our friends and family were able to follow our progress up the Amazon, thanks to you. Your photos were appreciated too.
    My husband and I, both with a physics background, are very interested in everything about the operation of the ship, the navigation, charts and pilots, the ship’s speed and currents and tides. We always get up on the top deck to watch the arrival in port so it’s very interesting to read (or hear onboard) the decisions you make, such as our aborted arrival at Grand Turk. We also appreciate the talks given by officers onboard.
    We were much hope HAL’s head office will not attempt to censor you in what you write in the future.
    Enjoy your break!
    Jill and Joe Waters

  4. Starrenburg.H.A.

    January 4, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Good day Captain and Lesley.

    Every day I read your log and as an old retired ships Capt. Iwill
    thank you for the clear explanation over all the work what has
    to be done on board of foreign going ships and the much more
    work to do nowaday’s than in the past. (I.S.P.S. State Controll
    etc.etc.). My wife and I were happy that our son was in safe hands.
    Wishing you a very good leave and hope to read you back on
    the Prinsendam.
    Heertje A. Starrenburg. Terschelling. Holland

  5. Thank for anther great blog. loved reading it each and ever day.Have a great time on Vacation .And i look forward to reading .you from the Prinsendam in the spring and all the great ports you will be taking us to.

    Mr Veendam

  6. Captain,
    I have just discovered your weblog and am sorry to learn you will be away for awhile. Until your return, I’ll catch up on your previous messages. Thank you for taking the time to post your experiences.
    Best wishes,

  7. Happy New Year Captain Albert. I hope you and your wife have a wonderful 3 month beak and that you will enjoy your new ship. I have a very fond feeling for MS Veendam as it was my very first HAL ship. I and my sister-in-law sailed from Vancouver (our home) on an Inside Pasage cruise. It was the beginning of a love afair with HAL ships Since then I have done Panama (Volendam) and Circle Hawaii (Volendam) and in February will do a 20 day Caribbean on Noordam. I am legally blind and love to cruise and the staff and crew on HAL ships has been so helpful and caring that I now refuse to cruise any other line – I feel fre and AT HOME on HAL ships. Keep up the wonderful work.

    Safe Journeys to you. Nora Sarsons, Vancouver, Canada

  8. Thanks Captain for taking the time to write a blog. I will follow you wherever you and your blog goes. Enjoy your time off.

  9. Enjoy your leave – I’m looking forward to hearing about your new ship!

  10. manys thanks for your daily posts. They help to satisfy the daydreams of someone who still can think, well, maybe forty years ago, I might have made choices that might one day have left me responsile for the care of a ship. Insteand I look forward to joining you on the Prinsendam, Novemver 1 in Athens for the Med-Atlantic voyage to Ft. Lauderdale. HAppy Holidays!

  11. Thank you for a wonderful cruise, which departed Tampa on December 14th 2008. My family and I have sailed on the Veendam six times, four of which with you at the helm. Recently, we sailed on the Volendam and the Westerdam. Both ships were nice; however, we greatly missed the Veendam and could not wait to cruise again with her. Your ship’s staff was wonderful as always, and the Veendam was as stunning as the first time we sailed on her five years ago. We will greatly miss the Veendam and hope to sail with you on your new ship next year.

  12. Captain Albert, I will, also, miss reading your blogs daily, I am one of your faithful followers although we have never cruised with you. It is just so interesting to read about what goes on with you and the crew, those of us just enjoying traveling with you really have no idea how much planning goes on to ensure our safety and enjoyment on our cruises and this blog is very enlightening in that respect. We are looking forward to a Panama Canal cruise in a little more than a month and knowing all that goes into it from your perspective, makes it much more interesting to me. We hope someday to be on a ship under your command and to meet you but until then will anxiously await reading your blogs when you return….will they be available at this same site or will there be a different website ? Thank you so much ! Happy New Year !

  13. Captain,
    May you always have fair winds and following seas.
    Thank you for the blogs.

  14. Thanks Captain. Well done. Look forward to new experiences with you on the Prinsendam. Enjoy your break!

  15. Captain Albert,
    To sum it up: Your blogs have been outstanding! They add another personal touch that Holland America can be proud of. Relax, rejuvenate, enjoy and come back safely to us soon.
    Eric Wood

  16. Good morning Captain … just want to wish you a happy new year and hope you will find time to relax in the coming weeks ..
    I do read your blog since spring 2008 and do enjoy it very much .. i am on ” cruising break” due to my newborn son and miss the caribbean very much .. so reading your day to day stories makes me feel at least a little bit travelling with you .. many greetings from freezing cold munich …. Stephan

  17. Hello Captain Albert –

    We really enjoy your blog and look forward to your return! Enjoy your leave.


  18. Captain Albert,
    I, too, am a faithful reader of your blog. It has been so informative. Anyone that reads even one day’s episode will learn that you care deeply about the comfort of the guests on board ensuring their safe return back to the ship from their shore excursions as well as their safe return back to Tampa. On many occasions, I have gone to Davis Islands in Tampa and watched the Veendam come through the narrow channel…..sometimes, we’ll go to Ft. DeSoto Park and watch as she comes under the Skyway Bridge. It’s a majestic moment for sure. Good luck to you on the Prinsendam. Please keep those blogs coming. I will look for them in the new location. Take care.

  19. Captain –

    Thank you very much for your blog which we have enjoyed very much. We hope you enjoy driving the Prinsendam as much as we have enjoyed riding on it!


  20. We will all be missing you. Have a great break, and I hope we can find you over at the HAL blogging site.

  21. Have a great time with your family. I will look forward to “seeing” you again on the HAL site.

  22. Been a pleasure reading all the entires on this website today.

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