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

13 March 2020, At Sea Day 2.

With a continuation of calm weather we sail down the Mexican Coast for our second day. Tonight we go “around the corner” at Cabo San Lucas and then by 06.00 hrs. we will be at the pilot station. We are still healthy and safe although we have all stepped our procedures to stay so. For the guests on board, especially for those with a long time cruise experience, the visible measures taken look very much as the way we deal with periods when the Noro Virus is prevalent. Although the viruses are not the same, the way they are transmitted are identical and thus we have imposed similar protocols.  How things will progress is any bodies guess but we are still sailing and that is for us the main thing.  As is known, the Westerdam has cancelled the remainder of her Far East season, as a precaution, and is now on the way back to America. Other companies have laid up some or all of their ships, so we can be very grateful that we are still able to offer the cruise that the guests have looking forward to. For those who still work and only have limited time it is very good thing that we can still sail.

As I am now staying on board until April 22 when we reach Rotterdam, it gives me the opportunity to extend my activities here and I have thus increased my plans for ship support, inspections, trainings, drills and reviews. Instead of having to press all the ships requests into 3 weeks, we can do a little bit more now at a more looser pace. I have blogged in the past on occasion about what I was up to on board, and I will do so again, when we do something “out of the ordinary”. Either to further enhance the skills of the officers and crew or also to give them something different to try out.

This is the Dive Inn of the Koningsdam and this setup has the shutters in the back on top of the equipment. That option was possible here because the ship is so much wider than the rest of the fleet.

In the mean time I have been making rounds in the ship and I thought it might be of interest to know what is there in the background, when you order a hamburger at the Dive Inn. A number of years ago, Holland America decided to Enhance /Upgrade the hamburger experience on board with new recipes and especially new sauces and call the Hamburger Stations on the fleet, the Dive Inn. The name came up for basically two reasons:  It is a take away bar so you just roll by, “dive towards it movement” and all our Hamburger stands are located next to the covered Lido pool. I never hear any complaints about the Hamburgers and hot dogs, only compliments so the concept has been very successful. America is a hamburger country much more than where I come from, so I have listened in on (heated) discussions about the pro’s and con’s of Wendy’s, McDonalds, Burger King and other chains, versus the merits of the home-hamburger. The HAL-burger in all its variations was always considered very good. And that is nice. That is very nice for the guests.

A temperature sensor above the deep fat fryer. If the oil would come close to burning point it will automatically start to release a cooling down agent. In the front the handle of the slide, which the cook can use to seal off the burning oil from  the oxygen in the air. (The condiment stand to the right is normally on the counter outside and only stored here when the Dive Inn is not open for business)

But we as Officers who think safety and who think about what can go wrong, look at the Dive Inn from a slightly different angle. (Although we happily consume its products) It has a deep fat fryer, it has a frying plate and it has a dedicated sausage heater. All things that can go on fire and can create local mayhem, but also mayhem that can also spread if the initial problem is not taken care of at once. So the Dive Inn has all sorts of safety gadgets which the average guests not often notices.

The safety philosophy is two fold. Contain and Extinguish. We train our crew that way. If a fire would occur then the crew members present have to react safely. So in their mind a switch clicks: Is this a small fire or is this a big fire. We define a small fire as a fire where the crew member feels confident to tackle it him/herself or a big fire where the crew member will close the area off and releases a fixed firefighting agent. (Apart from of course phoning the authorities = e.g. the bridge at all times)

The “box of tricks”. Here the cook can shut down all Electric Power , all Ventilation , and if needed release Co2 to stop a fire up in the Hood.

For small fires we have Fire extinguishers, Fire blankets, Fire covers (steel plates which seal off the Deep fat fryers) to take initial action. All cooks are fully proficient with these options. Then we have the fixed systems. The whole area is protected by Sprinkler, which goes off by itself if the temperature goes too high and then there is Wet Chemical, which has its own High Temperature sensor and will spray a foam like substance over the burning area. Then there is the danger that the flames would go up in the Exhaust Hood and for that we have a soapy cleaning system, which we use every evening for cleaning the hoods but which doubles up as an extinguishing agent if needed. And then there is Co2 higher up in the hood to ensure that the flames cannot travel up into the uptakes. And then there is “The Box”. The whole Dive Inn is inside a steel box, like a container. If a fire erupts, the shutter (a steel barrier for the serving counter opening) comes down and the entrance door is a Fire screen door, which will contain the fire for at least 60 minutes. And as our Fire teams reach each location of the ship within 10 minutes, that 60 minutes is more than ample.

Luckily we never had any of these sorts of fires on board and hopefully we will keep it that way. It being Friday the 13th. or not. The Cooks are fully trained and all our routines are based on prevention instead of just reacting if something should happen. And as long as the cooks do not burn the hamburgers and the Hot Dogs, the guests will be happy as well.

Tomorrow we are in Puerto Vallarta. We are the only ship again and thus we will dock at the cruise terminal again.  Weather: sunny with a gentle breeze and 28oC / 82oF. Should be a wonderful day ashore.


  1. Frans van Giersbergen

    March 14, 2020 at 10:23 am


    Thank you for your informative bloggs.
    The time has surpassed this one already unfortunately. HAL is suspending cruise for a month and the world cruise is prematurely ending in Australia. What will the Rotterdam do and what will you do if this cruise ends prematurely too.

    Frans van Giersbergen

  2. Janvier & Maureen Smith

    March 15, 2020 at 2:08 am

    Captain Albert –
    Thank you very much for keeping us updated on Rotterdam’s progress and on HAL’s leadership in dealing with the Corona problem. We are set to sail to Norway aboard that ship in 2021, and though there are troubled waters immediately ahead, we are confident that your meticulous training of crews will make for smooth and proficient sailing once this is all behind us. Thank you for all you do! Stay safe and healthy!
    Janvier & Maureen Smith

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