- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

15 Dec. 2014; Lisbon, Portugal.

This morning we had a late arrival, as planned, as the ship is staying overnight here. It gave the company the option to schedule a scenic arrival. Approaching the sea buoy at 0900 hrs. and then being docked by 11 am at the Apolonia Cruise Terminal. Lisbon has three passenger or cruise terminals as it is a very popular cruise destination. There is the old passenger terminal from the days when ships left for New York and the Colonies and it is called Alcantara after the west part of Lisbon which is also the industrial area.  Here still the old Terminal building stands with its 1st. 2nd class waiting rooms. This dock is not ideal for an overnight stay as they built a bridge over it. Ponte de 25 de Abril or the singing bridge, a constant zooming noise caused by vehicles and trains travelling over it. Then there is Rocha a bit more to the East and then there is Santa Apolonia. This terminal is being upgraded to become the major cruise terminal of the three and is located almost in downtown. It took me today approx. 10 minutes to walk back from the Central Square.  Eventually it will be able to accommodate three large cruise ships but today there were only two. The Rotterdam and the Oriana from P&O. So another “All in the Family affair”.

Sailing up the Tagus River was very nice today as the sun came out and by 09.30 the angle was just right; it nicely shone over Lisbon on the North bank. Perfect planning and scheduling.  By 11 am the good ship was docked with the nose in, upstream, as it was ebbing and the local pilots do not like to swing on the falling tide as it is hard to maintain position while the river tries to flush you downstream again. The Lisbon pilots embark and disembark at Belem Tower and the Captain and Navigators sail the ship to Belem Tower themselves.  The river is wide and the only challenge can be the swell running at the entrance as it has a sort of Sand Bar which can raise the swells even higher. The Captain warned that the ms Rotterdam could be rolling while going in but luckily we hardly noticed anything.


The Maritime Museum. I have been there already but it is a must for any salt water affectionado

I was very happy with the Apolonia dock as it has a train terminus and is a fixed stop for the Big Red Bus. This morning I held my last training and thus I was free to explore in the afternoon. For 18 euro’s you can combine two routes, (Belem – Red line) West & Central and (Oriente – Blue line) East & Central and that kept me happily occupied for 4 hours. I saw Central Lisbon three times as I stayed a bit longer on the one route. Sitting in front of me was a group of English people, most likely from the Oriana, who were coming from Geordie Land. Those who come from this area in Northern England sometimes have a strong accent but also have very unique vocabulary and way of expressing themselves. Many famous comedians come from that area and that is understandable as their way of observing life is to comment about it in a very understated and funny way. So I saw Lisbon for 30 minutes through the eyes of Geordie Land. I wish I could have taped it. To hear a land mark statue being described as a “puffed up bugger with p—pot on” his head did put everything in a totally different context. I have to admit, they had a point. The helmet on the Gentleman on the pedestal did resemble indeed a p – pot.

skatingLisbon was gearing up for Christmas and had even a little Christmas market on the main square (Praco do Comercio) including a mini ice rink. On the North side of this square there is Beer Museum which I did not know about so that will be the focus for next call Lisbon.  One has to immerse oneself in the local culture whenever one can, a Museum is culture, and thus I have now found a sound reason to drink a local beer.

This time a photo, next time a visit

This time a photo, next time a visit

This is also the last blog for the time being. Tomorrow I will go on vacation and fly home to England. I will arrive home in the late evening and the next morning my first task will be to get the Christmas trees out of the loft of our apartment.

I expect to be on the road again on February 2nd of next year. I cannot really give my schedule yet as it could be subject to extremely much change as the company wants to run the next school class on board and we do not yet know when there will be room. However I hope to make Singapore my base in February visiting the Volendam, Rotterdam & Amsterdam and if that works out, I will be blogging about sailing the Far East. I will post the dates as soon as the plans come to fruition.

Thank you to all my readers, for being patient with my daily ramblings. I just hope that occasionally I produced a word of wisdom or un-earthed a piece of information that you found of interest.

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous 2015.  May you have smooth winds and following seas while sailing into the New Year.


  1. Thank you, Captain Albert, and best wishes for a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

    In your recent comment about the Rotterdam V’s 40+ degree roll in Casablanca, I’m confused where that happened. Was it crossing the bar, or when the ship was anchored at night? We took the last westbound transatlantic from Rome on this ship (1997?) and ran into a storm off Newfoundland/Nova Scotia, but it was a great trip.

  2. Elbert L.J. Bosma, MM, MA

    December 15, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Dear Captain Albert,
    Thank you for your blogs you have been mailing us. Now it’s time for a good vacation at home.
    Wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  3. I will look forward to your returning column in February.

    Bill Hobart

  4. Thank you Captain Albert for your fine observations, and enjoy your leave. A happy Christmas season to you and Lesley, and I’ll be looking forward to your return to the blog in February. Above all, stay warm. Last time I was in Holland in December and January that was definitely not easy to do…..Ruud

  5. Robina Herrington

    December 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    These blogs have been very different, and as usual interesting and informative. I will miss them
    I wish you and your wife a very Happy Christmas, and a Healthy New Year.

    I will look forward to your Far East travels. Thank you for my daily cruise with a difference
    Best wishes Robina

  6. Captain Albert,

    Rest assured that every day you produce many words of wisdom and a lot of interesting information, at least to this avid reader of your blog. Best wishes to you and your wife for the holiday season and good luck with the Christmas trees. I look forward to following your adventures in the new year. Can’t wait to visit the Far East with you!

  7. Nicholas Sabalos

    December 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    As always, Captain, Thank You for sharing your wisdom, experience, sense of humor, and insight with all of us. Every post is much anticipated and savored!!

    While you go ashore, I will now go to sea aboard Amsterdam for the Holidays.

    Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year!

  8. Thank you for taking the time to write each day. Wishing you and Leslie best wishes for the Holidays and New Year. Peace

  9. Thank you for blogging Captain! Have a wonderful holiday season and we very much look forward to your return soon.

  10. Captain Albert – Thanks again for your daily ramblings. They are most enjoyable and educational. Have a great Christmas holiday.

  11. G. E. "Robbie" Robinson

    December 16, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your wife! We have sailed with you a couple of times and hope that we will be able to do so again in the future. We very much enjoy your blog and thank you for taking the time to write it.

  12. Capt Albert,

    Thank you so much for your great blogs about the ports you visited and the activities onboard. It really gets my feet itching to cruise again. I am in fact always looking at the itineries and offers from HAL and P&O. Who knows we might meet up some day.
    In the meantime have a Happy Christmas and Prosperous,happy and healthy New Year.
    Enjoy your time ashore with family and friends.
    Until next year,
    All the best

    Ted Dixon, Cape Town

  13. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family Captain. Thank you for posting each day as you have been and will be going to places and reporting on things that some of us can only dream of. I look forward to your new travels and insights when you return.

  14. Captain A
    Enjoy your break and we all look forward to more stories from the Master’s viewpoint.
    Roger T

  15. Prettige gezellige kerstdagen toegewenst en een goed 2015.

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