- 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

10 September 2010; Tilbury England.

This time the ship is going to stay only two days in Tilbury instead of three. We are still working on the Greenwich schedule, which requires arrivals and departures at high water. That normally takes a three-day call to make it work but this time, with the spring tides, it just worked out that the high water cycle coincided with our guest change overtimes. As can be found in the archives, we do not call at Greenwich anymore as it turned out to be logistically not possible to do a good change over there, due to lack of a proper cruise terminal and dock. For a regular port call it is a great spot, if the tide is right of course. So Seattle management agreed with my proposal to deviate to Tilbury and we have been going there for the whole season, much to everybody’s satisfaction. However with only a two-day call, we were going to have the change over of guests on the first day and the second day will be the regular port call at London for the new guests. That meant that I had to dock as early as possible to start unloading luggage at 0200 in the morning so that the early disembarks could leave at 0400 and arrive at Heathrow at 0600 hrs.

The plan was thus for a midnight docking and then the harbour master stepped in. There would be a car carrier docking at the top of the pier and that meant that the Prinsendam had to dock “nose up river” in order to fit alongside the dock in such away that the guests could leave via the shore gangway and the luggage via our shell door on deck 4. Docking nose up river means that you have to come in during the ebbing tide so that you can stem the current while docking. It is not so easy to dock at the Tilbury Landing stage with the current, as it tends to push between the ship and the dock and also runs under the dock. The latter; because the landing stage is a floating pontoon that goes freely up and down with the tide.

Nose upriver is what it was going to be and that meant arriving at the latest by 10 pm. At 21:56 it was going to be slack tide according to the local information and then there is a window of about 30 minutes before the flood tide starts to run properly. It takes four hours to get up the river and that meant a pilot pick up time of 1800 hrs. It had been very windy during the day again but as it was from the “regular” SE direction that all of us were now very much used to, it would have no influence on docking as the wind would set us gently towards the dock. We docked on time and the car carrier was nowhere to be seen. Not unusual, cargo ships do not run their schedules like clockwork as we do, as they can only sail when the loading has been completed. The ship showed up in the early morning of the 11th. instead.

Coming alongside, meant the end of my 3-month tenure on the Prinsendam. Same as last year the final cruise was the biggest adventure of the whole period. Tomorrow I will hand over to the alternating captain and then I am scheduled to be back on 8 November 2010, joining in Athens. I hope that you have enjoyed my daily observations of the past period. Apologies for the last few days, but when the weather gets wobbly, the captain has to be on the bridge and not behind the computer. As during my last leave I hope to post some more HAL history on the website when I get a moment. However during the coming weeks I am helping my 95-year-old mother in Holland to move to a retirement home. She has decided that “before she is getting old” she wants to be settled and will not become a burden on her neighbors and me. Being the only child and living in England that is an interesting logistical challenge. Still there are friends to help, so all will be well.

I hope to welcome you all back on November the 8th. or what is even better maybe welcome you on the Prinsendam.

As a final note, my schedule for next year just came through:

8 November 2010 to 5 January 2011

12 March 2011 to 13 May 2011

27 June 2010 to 26 Sept. 2011.


  1. Captain, you really saved the best for the last! Have a good holiday. I saw your scedule and your not on the Murmansk trip. I really hoped we would see you there again.
    Can’t wait until november for a new series of Blog’s, at that time we will be sailing in the Panama canal.

  2. AWWWWWW !!! Do you have to take a vacation ????/ LOL !!! Thank You for giving myself and my Granddaughters entertainment every day.. Not only do we enjoy reading your blog, we also follow you on a map, nice geography lessons…. Will really miss you, see you again on the 8 of November…

  3. May we wish you a peaceful resettling of your mother, and may we wish her an enjoyable, above all a healthy time, with nice people in this new home. Having been for many years a “long-distance-daughter” (transatlantic) to my mother, shutteling back and forth at times twice a month in her last year, while maintaining a normal work-schedule, I believe I can imagine the logistical contortions you have been involved in. The best to you and your family.

  4. Have a great and well-earned vacation Capt. Albert! Good luck with the big move involving Mum back home en nog vele gezonde jaren voor haar in het nieuwe tehuis!! See you when you get back here in November!

  5. Thanks again for taking us along with you. Good Luck with moving your mother.

  6. I – and several friends – will join the Prinsendam in Athens when you do on November 8. I’ve enjoyed following your posts, and look forward to sailing with you in a few weeks.

  7. Captain have a wonderful and well deserved vacation. Looking forward to cruising with you finally around Great Britain and onward to Rome next year. But could you arrange that the winds are calm and that you don’t miss any ports (just kidding, although I would love it if the weather was nice and sunny).

    Your comment about your mom wanting to be moved before she got too old reminds me of my husband’s mother who doesn’t consider herself old at 97. Good for her. May she have many more years.

  8. Captain Albert, we enjoy your blogging and will be joining the womderful Prinsendam in Athens also. Please have a great relaxing time away fromm the Bridge. God Bless, Marvin and Marilyn.

  9. Dr. Mary-Lou Galician

    September 15, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Many on our CC roll call are SOOOO sad that YOU will not be at the helm on our May 13-June 6 Transatlantic to Bordeaux & Beyond (Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam) — but wish you a wonderful holiday and safe transfer of your mother.

    ALSO: We are anxious to know about the P-dam’s damage and repairs from the Scotland storm, about which we’ve read but we’ve heard no updates…??

    Many thanks, dear Captain!

  10. Thank you for keeping us safe on the past cruise. Although the dishes and windows broke, the passengers and crew did not and safely returned to Tilbury…thank you, Captain

  11. Hello Captain,
    I am glad to see your schedule as I will be on the June 27, 2011 sailing to the Baltic, and I have been following your blog. I have 2 questions, if it is possible for you to answer them. 1) The new passenger ship dock in St. Petersburg, how far is it from town? A few years ago, there was a new dock that was about 4 miles from the city…is this the same one? As an aside, why doesn’t the prinsendam dock in the city….I know it is small enough….do you not have seniority?
    question 2) I am also on the June 6 cruise before you come back on….do you know who the captain for that portion will be.
    Thank you very much, I will be anxious to meet you.

  12. All the best to you and your mother.

    My mom lived to be 99 years old. I was her caregiver for the last 11 years of her life, so I understand your concerns about your mother’s future.

    I hope she finds much happiness in her new surroundings.

    Thank you again for your interesting and educational writings. I look forward to the time when you are back again.

    All the best, DFD

  13. Rudy & Tilly Klijnkramer

    September 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Dear Captain,
    Thanks again for sailing us safely through the ,,Hole,, We wonder:were you ever afraid?And how and when will the ship be repaired?Does she have to dock for the bow?
    We have had now 2 sailings with you and hope to have some more.
    Keep well and enjoy your holiday a nd the stay in our country to assist your mother
    Rudy Klijnkramer

  14. Hallo Captain.
    So far 2 did 2 sailings with you and hope to do more. tks. for getting us safely through the ,,Hole,, Were you ever afraid during this tempest.Thanks to you we were not.
    When and how is/.will the damage be repaired. Does she have to dock for the bow.
    Enjoy yr. holiday and the stay in our country.Good luck with the new home for your mother

  15. Margaret & Keith Stroup

    September 16, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    We were delighted to sail with you on the South America/Antarctica trip in early 2010. Now we are delighted again to find that you will be the Captain next March, 2011 when we rejoin the Prinsendam for the “second half” of this year’s cruise. Till then!

  16. Missed Career at Sea

    September 16, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    When I grow up I wanna be like your mom, Captain!
    Although I wasn’t born on a bicycle, many in the Netherlands were (right?). I wouldn’t be surprised if your mother has parked her bike only temporarily in a ‘fietsenstal’.
    Wishing you power beyond what is normal, Captain … Two months is not much time, but then you’ve proven to be blitzing around on a regular basis. “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, does it???” [a free translation from the Netherlands language ] And also try to rest so here and there 🙂

  17. Quite a tale from the high seas! I imagine that the bridge wings were used with great reluctance in those conditions– even if one is used to rain and wind. Makes me wonder what is used to weather-proof the uniforms against the rain- especially since one still has to tell who’s who (rank-wise).
    I hope the weather and Murphy did not cause further loss of scalp insulation– if so, at least it is a little easier to dry off if Murphy catches you without a hat.
    It sounds like it will be quite a busy off-season for you. Moving seems to take at least triple the original estimated time…but at least your mom can use your ship captain’s organizational skills…although she’s the ‘boss’ now- moms are always the ‘boss’ 😉

    I hope the off-season treats you well and that you and your family stay healthy. I will read your HAL history posts whenever the notification system sends out an announcement– I do look forward to reading them. It will ba a while before I’m lucky enough to set foot on the Prinsendam.

  18. Margaret & Keith Stroup

    September 17, 2010 at 12:35 am

    We were delighted to sail with you to Antarctica earlier this year and were even more delighted to see that you will be Captain on our March Prinsendam trip to the Mediterranean.
    We’ll look forward to seeing you!

  19. Dear Captain.
    We now did 2 salings together and hope to do more.You guided us safely through the,,Hole,,.No panick whatsoever;what were your thoughts on the bridge;were there risks?
    When and how will she be repaired,does she has to dock for the bow?
    We hope the new house of your mother in our country will be a safe harbour for her
    Good luck

  20. Thanks for being such a great son. Yup, we will be here to welcome you back, and yes, we certainly did enjoy these months with you.

  21. Enjoy your vacation and your stay in het kille kikkerland.
    Love your reports.

  22. loved your blog hope all goes well with your mum mine passed away in march at 86 years. had a lovely tour in timbury i am with the ols see you soon

  23. Frank van der Meulen

    September 19, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Have a great vacation, you’ll need it after working 90 solid days.
    I am an old HAL deck officer (1951-1956) and have also served in the Nautical department Rotterdam and on the Hoboken Pier.
    I could possibly supply you with some info in regards to your upcoming book on HAL captains as I knew quite a few of the oldies. Please contact me if you would like to have more information.
    Thanks again for you interesting blogs.

    • Dank U wel voor uw vriendelijke aanbod. Ik hoop in komende January verlof periode tebeginnen met de upload op de website met de informatie die ik heb. Hopelijk geeft dat genoeg aandachts puntjes waar uw op kunt in haken.

      Ik hoop tegen die tijd contact met uw optenemen.

      Met vriendelijke groet

      Kapt. Albert

  24. Captain Albert,
    I so enjoyed reading your blog about the Kiel Canal and Baltic cruise that I have reserved a spot on the Aug 2011 sailing. Just read your schedule and am excited that you will be at the helm. Enjoy your holiday and best of luck with your mom!

  25. Captain Albert,

    Best Wishes for a successful vacation (however you define that). I only found your blog about two months ago, and have enjoyed it very much.

    We will be joining you on the Prisendam in November for the Amazon itinerary. We are very much looking forward to meeting you in person.

  26. Tallulah in Mississippi

    October 12, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    My husband and I will be coming along with you on Nov. 29 for the Amazon Explorer cruise. We are very excited. My sister and brother-in-law, Sarah & Larry Kerr, have sailed with you in the past, and she told me about your blog. We followed it for your last trip up the Amazon. We look forward to meeting you. Have a wonderful shore leave.

  27. Captain Albert,
    I have been reading your blog during the cruise in South America beginning of the year and some part of the north europe cruise this summer. Next January, my husband and me are joining the South America Grand Voyage and unfortunately have seen that you will not be the captain of the Prinsendam!
    However, within a few days we are flying to Madeira for some holidays and I have seen that the Prinsendam will be docked there on 21st November. We would very much like to visit the ship (never been on it) and maybe say hello to you. Is it possible? If yes, how do we proceed?
    Many thanks for your answer and enjoy the rest of your holiday.

  28. It’s Nov. 8th as I write this—
    Welcome back! I hope you had a good rest after helping your mother move to a new place and that she enjoys her new home.
    As the weather in Seattle turns miserable from the storms in the Pacific, it will be nice to read about the adventures and challenges on the Prinsendam’s warm-weather voyages on the Amazon and through the warm Caribbean.
    Ps- it’s a good thing the Alaska cruise season does not run into October or November. Already had 30ft waves and 50 knot winds on the coast from what was left of a typhoon…which was 939 mb at the center up in the gulf…

Leave a Reply to WTXCRUISER Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.