Cadet nbr 1. went home today so I had a reprieve from getting up early but it was an early morning for the captain. The ship was right in position at 04.20 hrs. in the morning and with the pilot hopping on board, there was no delay. Piraeus is really too small for the large cruise ships to get in and out but we still do it and to make it work you have to plan very carefully. While a SMART Car would race into the garage as it would have oodles of room, a Rolls Royce would have to drive in slowly because it would only have a few inches spare on either side when going through the garage door. And we are driving a Rolls Royce into Smart Car port.  Today there were four larger cruise ships in. MSC Musica, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Jewel and the Rolls Royce Oosterdam.

The Piraeus harbor entrance. It is about 100 meters wide and the Oosterdam is 32 meters. That does not leave much room if the wind is blowing and the ships drifts to the south side when slowing down.

The captain and his team had the additional challenge of having been assigned a “parking space” right behind the “garage door” with very little space to swing. So it was decided to sail in and then back up to the dock.  As you can see from the track of the ship, it sailed close to the north breakwater so there was room to drift to the south on the wind while the speed was taken out of the ship and then the stern was brought over so the ship could go astern and sideways to position.

The closer the orange “time” blocks are the shower the speed. So the ship first slowed down and then slowed again to make the turn to embark the pilot, before speeding up to sail into the port.

We docked today at what we call the “Olympic Games” dock. It was completed just in time for the Olympic Games and during the Olympics, the Queen Mary and the Rotterdam were here as Hotels. We have done that before. Yours Truly was with the old Nieuw Amsterdam in Sydney during the 2000 Olympic Games and the Oosterdam was a hotel ship for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Vancouver during the winter games there.  (The Mounties showed up without horses which made life easier although the Staff Captain had calculated that the ship would have been able to accommodate about 40 of them getting 5  star HAL service in the Provision handling area) None of the crews ever complain if their ship is going to a Olympic or Football charter. Loss of revenue is normally compensated for and because it is normally alongside for 2 weeks or more, the supervisors have the chance to give their crew at least one or two full days off.

Once inside the brakes were put on and then the ship went astern to the dock.

Holland America tries to store fresh produce and reliable consumables where ever we can and most items are consolidated in a warehouse in Rotterdam and then driven by trucks to a port of call or to a changeover port. If that is Rotterdam or Amsterdam it is a nice short drive but the trucks also show up in Barcelona, Venice, Civitavecchia and Piraeus; which are our main change over ports. Normally big trucks with 40 foot containers. So it was a bit of a surprise to see a small truck this morning, which had come all the way from Holland with prime meat and chicken to keep our guests happy. When we are sailing around North America the meat also comes from a good distance as we have a contract with a farming community in Alberta who supplies nearly all the beef for Holland America and also for a few of our sister companies.

It does not come much more Dutch than this. The company Koekkoek from Vroomshoop, which is a town located in the North East part of the Netherlands.  According to the all knowing internet they sponsor the local soccer club so it must be a good company.

I did not go ashore today; too warm and a lot of guests agreed with me and also stayed on board. It will make my wife happy as A. I did not spend any money and B. I did not forget to use sunblock 35……… as I did not need it. I will be back here sometime in the future and then hopefully my ship will be at the dock all the way in the port; which is much closer to the Maritime bookstore which is right on the water front leading to the town itself.

This evening we sail late, as this is our evening port call of the cruise. For the guests who venture ashore tonight, it should be a nice and warm evening for a stroll along the harbor and visit a few tavernas. We also offer a 4 hr. evening tour which will include some sightseeing, and a Greek show and dinner dance in a restaurant with a view. Which I hope sells well as it is a really good one.

This evening, the captain will back the ship out of the port as that is much easier than to try to swing in the narrow basin and go bow out. From there we sail to Nafplion which is 112 miles away to the southwest of Piraeus. There is no dock so we will anchor. All the sailors are already nervous as tomorrow they have to prove that they are good tender drivers. Same for Cadet nbr 2. as he has to show he is proficient in the companies anchor procedures.

The Weather: it is going to be even warmer then today: 98oF / 37oC with a see breeze in the afternoon.