- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

15 April 2019; At Sea, Day 2.

Today we are sailing along the South East part of Yemen and tomorrow we are turning into the Gulf of Aden and from there into the Red Sea. Bab El Mandab should be visible tomorrow afternoon if we continue with this speed. So hopefully we will be able to see the rock formation but it will depend on the traffic which all has to converge there due to the narrowness of the fairway. More about that tomorrow.  We are still quite a ways from land and thus there is not very much to see except that the wind picked up during the night and we now have white caps with a wind force 4 (up to 16 knots)  sometimes breezing up to  6 (20+ knots).  It is a following wind so it does not matter for the ship as the ship is traveling with the same speed as the velocity of the wind and thus it is nearly wind still on deck.  The wind is from the North East and has been blowing over warm areas and thus it is a warm wind, making it nice and toasty outside.

So today a little bit about the ship. The Seabourn ships are designed according to a concept that came out first with the Europa of 1981; built for Hapag- Lloyd cruises for the German market and was at that time considered the most luxurious cruise ship in the world. She is still around and now sails (until the May 2020) for Saga Cruises of England.

The ms Europa of 1981. Please note the larger windows at the stern indicating the public rooms.

What was so revolutionary about her was that nearly all the public rooms were at the stern, where there is the most vibration and nearly all the cabins more forward where it is much more quiet.  Thus the public rooms where stacked on top of each other except for the Observation lounge.  This was a radical change from what was introduced with the beginning of the dedicated cruise industry with such ships as the Rotterdam (V) and then the mass market ships in the 1970’s  to have all public rooms in line on one or two decks and the cabins above and/or below. Most cruise ships that are now being built still use this concept. Basically because you can only do vertical stacking when you have smaller numbers of guests on board.

The Seabourn Ovation from the stern. Seen here in Venice, very early in her career. At the stern there are only four cabins located  on deck 11 right under the communication globes.

The concept was fully embraced by the top end of the Cruise industry which is called, the Luxury or the Ultra Luxury segment. Seabourn is in there somewhere, hovering between six and seven star cruising. (Holland America is considered to be in the Five Star, premium market) The star rating works as a rule of thumb but nowadays the boundaries are really blurring as there are so many niche operations popping up and also mainstream companies are starting to offer so much extra. (Either included or for an additional free)

The Seabourn Ovation is the 2nd of a class of two, the first one being the ms Seabourn Encore. There are three more ships in the fleet (Sojourn, Odyssey,  & Quest) but they are about 25% smaller. That gives the Ovation a volume of 40,000 tons with a length of 210 meters and 604 guests in 300 cabins. As far as I understand the 4 over the 600 are accommodated in the very large cabins of which the Winter Garden Suite is a real whopper. (Approx. 1200 sq. feet, with two balconies)

This is the … The Club especially for pre dinner cocktails with music and after dinner drinks (also with music) It has a dance floor and offers on regular occasions also intimate musical performances.

Thus with the arrangement of the vertical stacking it starts with the

Marina (Deck 3 the rest of this deck is crew deck),

Main Galley (Deck 4 behind The Restaurant which is more in the middle as it offers all in one seating )

The Club (Deck 5, lounge with life music and evening entertainment,

The Grand Salon (Deck 6, Show lounge / Theatre),

Seabourn Square (Deck 7, Front Office, Shorex, Library, Coffee Bar, all rolled into one,

The Grill by Thomas Keller (Deck 8, Specialty Restaurant),

The Colonnade (Deck 9, casual restaurant),

Spa & Wellness, (Deck 10, Spa and Fitness Centre)

Forward, on deck 10, there is the Observation Lounge and The Retreat (This is an secluded area for sunbathing in private Cabanas with TV = surcharge)

This is the Observatory. Quiet for reading during the day. In the evening there is music, the bar is in full swing and against the back wall a sort of tapas bar with all sorts of snacks.

The concept works really well as long as the ship does not cater to too many guests as otherwise these public rooms become too gigantic and then you are better off with spreading them out over two or three whole decks.

Tomorrow we will start heading into the Gulf of Aden but I do not expect too much change in weather. It will still be warm but if we come close to the coast then we might see some sand and rocks again. And of course more oil tankers.


  1. My son & his wife are on the Prinsendam right now, so I will save this post for them to read when they return.
    They’ve been on many HAL cruises and were surprised that they embarked on deck A or B. Obviously he doesn’t remember that’s where we probably embarked many years ago on the Rot V or the old Volendam. 😊

    I’m thinking that now they like the smaller ships.

  2. Suzanne Mclean

    April 16, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Hi Albertv it’s a old shipmate of yours Suzanne Mclean I am going on the Nieuw Amsterdam next Sunday do you know who will be Captain. I saw that Edward van Zanne had been on board it would of been great to catch up . Loving the blog kind regards Suzanne

    • Captain Albert

      April 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      Hello Suzanne

      thank you for reading my blog.

      Unfortuntately Edward is not there. Jeroen van Donselaar is the captain. You might remember him, he was 4th. officer on the Noordam in 1984/85 or so

      Are you coming to the reunion in Stratford ??

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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