We had a glorious day at sea and the guests could sit outside to their hearts content and bake in the sun if they wanted to do so. Those who did move outside helped to ease the traffic inside a little bit as this cruise we are sailing with a full house. Although the Oosterdam has a space ratio of 44.2 which is one of the highest for the larger ships, it can still be busy. We have this cruise a real full house with every cabin occupied. Part of all these happy people on board is a large group called First Nation who have turned this into a sort of sub charter although the other guests do not notice very much of it, apart from seeing the bright blue T shirts which are being worn. They have gatherings in the show lounge but as they show lounge is mostly empty during the day, outside the lecture hours and the rehearsals of the Cast, it works out very well for everybody.
Holland America Line has incentive groups on a regular basis, sometimes a small group, sometimes a large group which books in at 1st or 2nd sitting and sometimes there are charters which take over the whole ship. The amazing thing is, these charters vary enormously in background and focus and it indicates to me that people from all walks of life feel at home on Holland America. We have Church groups, Retails groups (selling products over the phone or franchises) Gay groups, Music groups, Nudist groups, Doctors, even once the FBI. The latter was very interesting as I did not know that the FBI also had undercover agents who did not look like anything like the image the FBI tries to project to the outside world.
Music charters are quite common and are good for the ship as well; as those guests tend to enjoy listening to music with a glass of something or the other in their hands. One such group is the Delbert McClinton charter, a gentleman who is very famous in America in the blue grass scene. They charter the whole ship and for 7 days the place is really heaving. I had them for the first time on my Veendam in 2006 or something and that was so successful that they have chartered a HAL ship every year since. It was interesting to be part of it as I had never seen a jam session with six Hammond Electronic Organs. They have their next charter here on the Oosterdam on Jan. 06, 2017 and there is a whole array of musicians and bands coming with him. Basically continuous music for 24 hours a day. I do not know what the public is now but back in 2006 they struck me as people who had woken up in 1968 and had decided to stay there. I could not agree more with them as some people had a real good time in those days so then why not continue them?
Today, I threw one of my specials again a practical Damage Control Drill for the engineers. I offer this every time I am on board a ship as a practical drill for this is hard to achieve. You cannot just poke a hole in the ship and then start practicing. Thus the trainings and drills that are being done on board are often just a simulation of the real thing.I can afford to spend a few hours rigging up something more realistic and thus the Chief Engineer went or it. With the aid of the Bo ‘sun and his sailors we built a wooden wall against a scaffolding on the forward deck, rigged up four fire hoses, and presto you have a hull with ingress of water.
We have a lot of material on board to help stopping, plugging or reducing the ingress of water but there is no strict science of how to deal with it as every situation is different and every hole in the ship will be different as well. Thus the Leader of the attack team (officially Damage Control Team) has to think outside the box on how to use whatever he/she has available or can get from somewhere in the ship. Damage Control falls under the focus of the engineering teams as it is dealing with steel, broken pipes and electricity. However this morning the deckies wanted to have a go as well, get soaking wet and spending a good 90 minutes in the sunshine to do a bit of training to plug holes and to find out how it feels to have to work against 200 tons of water per hour ingressing into the ship.
Tomorrow we are in Mahogany Bay, Roatan for a full day at the local resort. According to the cruise schedule we are the only one in port but you never know for sure as it is always possible for another ship to be deviated because of whatever reasons. We will be at 07.00 at the pilot station and should be docked 45 minutes later. Expected weather: wind, sun, clouds and rain; all expected in one day. Still it will be warm: 80oF / 27oC and a 75% chance of showers.