- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

10 December 2019: At sea.

Today we are sailing at a leisurely pace from Half Moon Cay to Falmouth Jamaica. That is a pace of 14 knots. This is one of those distances which you cannot make in one night because if you would go full speed you would arrive around midnight and Falmouth is not known for its thriving night life so we adjust our speed and have a nice day at sea. Because that is part of the package anyway, a cruise is not just about the ports, but also about the ship. Although those who are new to cruising tend to select a cruise with as many port days as possible.

But they only do that once as

  1. Going ashore day after day is tiring
  2. They find out quite quickly that they cannot partake in all the activities if they do not a lot more time for it. Thus it is either going ashore or staying on board.

Hence most cruises have two sea days, even if it would be possible to make a schedule where we would be able to do a port each day. Holland America tried that once, in the grey mists of time, in 2001 when the Veendam sailed during her winter season out of San Juan.

Day 1, San Juan, Day 2, Basseterre, Day 3, Bridgetown, Day 4, Fort de France, Day 5, St. Maarten, Day 6, St. Thomas and Day 7, San Juan.

Although our guests in general did not mind flying to San Juan, the ratings of the cruises were not great. This was a bit puzzling as the ports were no different than what we do on a cruise from Fort Lauderdale. It soon transpired that it was the lack of sea days. Especially the last one. Guests were worn out by going ashore each day and not having the chance to relax and enjoy the ship. The older guests found it challenging and the younger guests (especially with children) were completely worn out after 5 days and most of them had to go back to work on Day 8 or 9. So a relaxing last sea day is for most people a requirement for having a good cruise. Apart from that there are guests who love sea days and that is one of the reasons that our Trans-Atlantic voyages always sell well. As one of our old captains used to say:” Doing nothing is also Doing Something and I am really busy with doing that.” So today we had the regular ripple going through the ship with large numbers of guests moving from one happening to the other.

When passing by I saw the deck sale and even the ships Florist had a little stand selling the flower vases we have in certain areas in the ship such as at the Grand Dutch Café. Sometimes it is a question of the chicken or the egg, of having an outlet or not, and he ended up with having a stand as the guests kept asking about these little table vases. Some versions you can buy on the internet but I am told that some designs you can only buy on board, at least those with a company related pattern and thus you have to buy them during the cruise. They are designed by a Lady in Amsterdam and then made by Royal Goedewagen in the Netherlands, the same company that also makes the plates that we issue for long voyages and the tiles that we hand out during the Mariners Luncheon.  I can cut and paste a few designs in here but you can also click on this link:


The florist (we have one on the smaller ships and two on the bigger ones) is not a company man but belongs to a concessionaire. Holland America’s expertise does not lay in running a flower shop and thus we use an expert company (from the Netherlands) which runs all the florist shops and displays on all the ships. This is a Dutch company which started with Holland America and have then grown so much, they also supply other cruise companies so they now have an office and outlet in Miami. See link above.

The two florists here on the Nieuw Amsterdam look after the flower displays on board to make sure that they stay fresh but they also make bouquets and other flower arrangements to order and as there is a lot of romance going on, on the ships, they are quite busy. On the grapevine I heard that once a guest wanted a 100 white roses, cost no issue, and the florist managed to comply by having them hand delivered to Key West by Car from Miami. An expensive exercise, but the service was given and the man who ordered was happy as SHE said YES…………..

I have never been able to photograph flowers on board in a nice way but a guest sent some photos to the HAL Blog some time ago and she did a very nice job.


Tomorrow we are in Falmouth, Jamaica and I forget to ask the captain if we are alone or not as there is space for two ships. Some websites give the Disney Fantasy as the second ship, so we will see.

Weather: Partly Cloudy with temperatures at noon time of 88oF / 31oC and a gentle breeze. No rain has been forecastle but with Jamaica you never know as it all depends on how the rain clouds bump against the central mountains of the island.


  1. Dear Capt. Albert:
    It was such a pleasure to see you again on last weeks cruise. As we told you, we love reading you blog, as we learn so much about how todays cruise ships work, and so much about history of the seas. Holland America is very fortunate to have such a valuable Captain as yourself. Hope to see you again on some future cruise. Meanwhile wishing you and you wife wonderful Holidays. Don’t work too hard on vacation.
    Susan Seltzer Arnold Gottlieb & Bennett Gottlieb

    • Captain Albert

      December 11, 2019 at 7:46 pm


      it was nice to meet you and I hope you enjoyed your cruise. I will be around for a few more years to come.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  2. I am very happy to see that HAL continues to have REAL flowers onboard. Other lines seem to be moving to fakes or succulents that have very long life and don’t take much care. It truly sets you apart.

  3. Raymond Beaudoin

    December 11, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Sorry that we did not see you at the Officers meet last night, Dec 10. We asked around, no one knew where you were. One officer responded “ We have not put a tracking device on him, yet”. Maybe I will run into you “Out and about”.

    • Captain Albert

      December 11, 2019 at 7:48 pm


      that is a pity. I normally attend, if it is not on a Gala Night. I do not carry my Tuxedo with me and I refuse to lower my standards. I will be on the look out.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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