- Captain Albert's Website and Blog -

Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

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.

I was quite happy to join in Quebec as the company put me up in Chateau Frontenac on top of the hill overlooking Quebec harbor. I had never stayed there as most of the time I either joined or disembarked in Montreal when in the area. I had visited the hotel once and had then received the “grand tour” behind the scenes and was taken all the way up to the rafters of the middle tower which was the latest addition to the Hotel. Going behind the scenes on private account (our local agent knew somebody, who knew somebody who could do that) was right up my street as this Hotel together with a string of other and similar hotels had been built by the Canadian Pacific Line around 1890 – 1905. So climbing to the inside top of what I consider Maritime history was a high light. But the back of the house tour took so long that I did not get the chance to walk through the chandelier lighted public rooms and nose around on the various floors. Now I had the chance and thus I did. Wonderful oldie wordlie place but modern as well with nothing lacking. Brass, mahogany and crystal, what more can you ask for.

The ss Ryndam of 1951 passing by Quebec and Hotel Frontenac while going towards Montreal.

Holland America has been sailing to Quebec and Montreal since the 1950’s when the emigrant trade from Europe was much more focused on Canada than before the 2nd world war. Now we do the same thing again but with cruises. And each cruise we have several guests on board who came this way 40 to 50 years ago with HAL up the same river to start a new life. While they went upstream, we are now sailing downstream with an 11 day cruise which will end in Fort Lauderdale on 20 October. After that the 10 day Caribbean winter circle cruises will start again, the same as the ship made last year. I will remain on board until 24 October in Willemstad after which I will transfer to the Koningsdam.  I am here on board to give some support with compliance verification and training and do some of my regular things including mayhem during drills.

Captain Wouter van Hoogdalem

Current Master of the ms Zuiderdam is Captain Wouter van Hoogdalem who came up through the ranks with our company and has thus been with us for a long, long time. On this cruise we will call at Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax, Portland, Boston, Newport (RI), New York and Ft. Lauderdale. This is the last cruise of the company to Quebec as it is expected that the winter will set in soon. Although at the moment it does not look like it as Quebec, yesterday and today, was at its best with glorious sunny weather. No wind, sunshine all day and with temperatures of around 60oF / 15oC.


Unusual is that we are docked in the side port of Quebec and not at the cruise terminal in front of the city. Unfortunately all goes by size nowadays and an “Apartment of the Seas” much bigger than us has the top spot. We are in an industrial corner of the port but they are building a new cruise terminal here as cruising to Quebec is booming. Although our view is not that great, it is only about 15 minutes to walk to reach the lower town of Quebec so it is not so bad.

The new cruise terminal under construction. For the time being we are using a Marquee assembly, seen in the back.

Tonight and tomorrow we will sail down the river and then into the estuary of the St. Lawrence River before reaching Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. Weather for tomorrow: Partly Cloudy and with temperatures around 50oF /11oC. That is very good for this time of the year and Charlottetown looks even better.


  1. Welcome back, I miss your wonderful Blogs when you are off!
    ,looking forward to ‘Armchair sailing’ , again
    Best wishes Robina

  2. Robina Herrington

    October 10, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Welcome back, Captain Albert
    Missed you
    Best wishes Robina

  3. It is good to have you back. You were missed.

    • I love your blogs and your reference to ‘Apartment of the Seas’ reference. Give me the smaller Holland ships any day. Your blogs are very interesting and informative. You must love to write. It shows!!!

      Patsy Bellomy—a five star.

  4. ” an “Apartment of the Seas” – my sentiments exactly!

    Welcome back Captain Albert.

  5. Welcome back, Captain. Just in time as our local cruise season in
    Vancouver is grinding to the finish line, with the ensueing melancholy.
    With you back in our daily routine, it’s ”active ‘ again. Looking forward,as usual,
    to your great entertaining blogs.

  6. Thought you may have gotten lost 😅. Hope you had a wonderful, well deserved vacation, but happy to get your blog again.

  7. Welcome back! We are very glad to hear your cyber voice again.

  8. Great to see you blog this evening. Welcome back

  9. Anticipating reading your marvelous comments on life aboard Zuiderdam and visits to various ports.

  10. Oh! Welcome back! I’ve been reading your blog since June 2019, and enjoying it immensely! At first, I was introduced to your blog with your last trip to Alaska 2019. We were on the Nieuw Amsterdam in May 2019, and were very impressed with the cruise. Since then I’ve been reading your blog since it began in 2007 and have reached November 2011.

    I was excited that you were now on the Zuiderdam, as our next cruise will be on it when it heads to the Dutch West Indies in late December 2019 and I thought I might the opportunity to meet you in real life! Alas I read that you will be moving to the Koningsdam October 24. Oh well I will have to settle with reading your fine blog…

  11. John Thomas McGeean

    October 11, 2019 at 1:19 am

    Glad you are back Captain Albert. Your insights an comments are most welcome. Thank you for posting

  12. Nicholas Van Herpen. (Klaas van Herpen)

    October 11, 2019 at 1:28 am

    Good to see you back. I have your book “125 years of Holland America Line.” Autographed by the way. Isn’t it timer for an update? I love HAL am 5 star and go back to the first Westerdam bringing our family to America in Feb 47

    • Captain Albert

      October 11, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you for reading my blog there is an update, at least for the history part. It is called 145 years Holland America Line and for information please contact GUNS@HOME B.V. as I do not know the North American distributor.

      best regards

      Capt. albert

  13. Welcome back….looking forward to traveling with you..

  14. Please continue with your very interesting stories. Love reading them!

  15. Welkom terug. Fijn om de verhalen weer te kunnen lezen! Werkse.

  16. Welcome back Captain Albert. Love your blogs.
    We are going on the Oosterdam and Mexico in Nov. I believe 24 days (back/back) I believe it’s our 47th cruise on HAL. Lost count 5 * of course.

  17. Fijn datje weer terug bent. Je werd gemist

  18. Welcome back Captain albert

    I so enjoy reading your blogs as they are so informative. Looking forward to armchair travel with you.
    Kind regards

    Ted Dixon, Cape Town

  19. Susan Richardson

    October 11, 2019 at 11:56 am

    So glad you are back. Reading your blog is a high point of my day. Took this cruise two years ago (with Montreal included.) One of my favorites!

  20. So glad you are back. Reading your blog is a high point of my day. Took this cruise two years ago (with Montreal included.) One of my favorites!

  21. It was with great pleasure when I opened my e-mail and saw you had posted. It’s like an old friend has returned. I enjoy your posts and look forward to reading of your adventures.

  22. Welcome back Captain Albert, looking forward to meeting you on the Koningsdam later this month!

  23. We’re in Edmonds WA. May thru Sept we see Alaska-bound “Apartments” every weekend – incredibly ugly things that don’t deserve to be called “ships”. Holland-America’s vessels still look like real ships, especially Veendam and her sisters.

    Here’s hoping H-A never builds an Apartmentdam, but economics and efficiency will often overrule esthetics

  24. I find there is some beauty in every ship,even on old worn out liners and freighter.
    I cannot understand why some readers denegrate ultra large cruise ships. calling them “Apartments Of The Seas” .Granted they are not for everyone but most newbuilds are getting larger and ships are reaching into “Apartments” size. Certainly they must offer something for cruisera since RCL keeps adding them to their fleet for years.
    We have sailed on 19,000 tonners and 120,000 tonners and each of the took us to sea, gave us wonderful memories and when we walked back to the ship always saw their beautiful bows and was pleased to be sailing on them small and large.

  25. Hi Capt. Albert
    Welcome back! It’s great to have your wonderful reports again..
    My wife and I are coming to lunch in NYC on 10/17 with Tom Cassidy’s World Ocean Liner
    group. Would it ever be possible to meet you?
    Thank you! Bill & Susie Cashin

    • Captain Albert

      October 13, 2019 at 12:01 pm

      Thank you for reading my blog.

      Will the lunch be on board ? If so we can meet up. If the lunch is at a shore venue than it will be difficult to get there as in the mornings we have safety drills and in the afternoon CBP curtails the time we can go ashore to about 1500 hrs. so let me know where you will be and if on board we can meet up for sure. Say Hello to Tom C. I have seen him for about 25 years.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  26. Welcome back captain!
    Het is genieten om deze blogs te lezen!
    Deze dagen lees ik ook het boek ” Een zeevarend zondagskind” de memoires van HAL captain Ten Kate, n geweldig boek… misschien kende u hem?
    Kind regards,
    Peter Helmer
    Shiphost ssRotterdam

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