- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

15 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

I am somehow not in synch with the world leaders as every time, just as I have published my blog, something exciting happens. Same yesterday, I put my blog on line by 1600 hrs. ships time; early as I had to go on standby to teach the cadet and at 16.30 hrs. the Captain received orders to stay in port and send all the guests home.  After careful consideration the decision was made to abort our cruise and ask the guests to fly home, as at this moment they would still be able to reach home. As well as in the Europe, as in the USA and anywhere else, the countries could stop all (international) travel by Monday. Mexico is not yet in lock down as there are hardly any cases here but that might well happen as the numbers in other parts of the world continue to rise. Most of Europe will reduce travel and movement as of Monday and then it might become extremely difficult to get home.

Thus wheels were set in motion to get our 700 guests safely home. The captain made several announcements to alert all the guests and crew and then the Holland America Line Travel Organization took over. For those with HAL travel arrangements it was all quickly done, for those with private reservations (or no reservations as they came by car either in San Diego for Fort Lauderdale and were doing a back – to – back) the company helped with arrangements. For that purpose Guest Services had set up a relay system by which every hour or so the guests of one deck were called down and arrangements were then made.

The whole ship was then mobilized to assist the guests with disembarking. The first departures from the ship were very early in the morning and the last ones will be at 18.30 tonight. From that early moment on, the cabin stewards were standing in the corridors with trolleys’ so the moment a Cabin door opened, the trolley was there for the luggage. An abrupt change like that has a multiple impact on all the running operations of the ship. Guests who as late as 1600 hrs. put out their laundry, now needed it back ASAP before they could start packing. So also the Ships Laundry, went on high alert. They waited until 21.00 hrs. for the last laundry to come in, and then made sure that everything was dealt with quickly and went back rapidly to the guest to pack.

Then apart from the Guests also the “crew” with guest status were disembarked today. Such as the Billboard on board Piano players and the Lincoln Art quartet. We were already sailing with a lower number of entertainers and lecturers than normal as they were not allowed to transfer from other ships or could not get flights from home. Yours truly was already roped in last cruise for extra lectures and the idea was to do this again this cruise. Plus, as the Panama Canal narrator was not coming on board, I would have been narrating that all day long as well. But that is not needed now.

I am not going to post pictures about the Covid -19 or Corona Virus. See here what Berth 3 looked liked in 2000. The red towers are the leading lights into the harbour.

What is going to happen now? We do not know. The company, and we here we mean Carnival Corporation has to redirect all the 150+ company ships and the ms Rotterdam is only one of them. We will stay overnight here in Puerto Vallarta for a second night and then the captain will receive further guidance for the next step.  We were supposed to be one of the last ships to disembark our guests, at the end of our regular cruise; now we are one of the first ones, but our sisters ships are also on the way to home ports.

If you want to see where they all are, we are on the ships use marine traffic:


Which gives an almost real life time position of the ships. Plus what ship it is. The website still gives Huatalco as the next port, and that is because when we prepared for departure yesterday afternoon at 15.30 hrs. That was what was put in the AIS transmitter. It will be changed the moment we receive orders for our next destination.

Once the company has decided when we should go through the Panama Canal, we could meet again if the company would decide on a joint anchoring area. Or we could be directed to go somewhere else. We just wait as there are too many factors in play to make even an educated guess. The ship is fully fueled, fully stocked, and because we were in motion for a 14 day cruise with guests, we have now ample provisions on board for a much longer cruise with crew only. Tomorrow we will know more.

And this is 20 years later. At the left side of the main shopping mall is a red /white blocked pole which is now the leading light by means of a sector light, so you do not need 2 towers/poles any more.

The Puerto Vallarta authorities have advised that the dock will remain available. With all the cruise ships coming to stand still, there are no ships coming to Puerto Vallarta either and thus we are welcome to stay at our pier as long as is needed.  This gives the option for the crew to go ashore a little bit and I hope that they will do so, as once we start sailing it could be quite a long time before we can get ashore again. So we will see how things progress.

The weather in Puerto Vallarta is still beautiful and will also be so tomorrow. Partly Cloudy 29oC / 84oF and a gentle breeze. Tomorrow is also a National Holiday in Mexico but I have no idea if the Mexicans are going to keep it low key or not.




  1. Stay safe, Capt. Albert. We think of you often.

  2. Re ships being stood down, if that is a term, it was very emotional watching the Noordam sailing out of Auckland harbour last Thursday knowing it was passenger-less. I live in Auckland and have had a couple of cruises on board this wonderful ship and it is a strange sight to see an empty overseas terminal downtown.

  3. So much to do!! I’ll be glad when this gets back to normal as I know others will be also!!
    Hal has shown much integrity through this!

  4. I am so glad you explained how these events have impacted you and the crew Capt. Albert. Not much has been said previously in the news how these situations must be dealt with immediately by so many of the crew which most passengers never see. Thank you so much for highlighting the way all of you politely and patiently handle these challenges.
    We have prayed for all of you daily since this affected the first ship, Diamond Princess in Japan.

  5. All the best in these uncertain times Kaptein and RTDM crew! Stay safe!

  6. I am sure all fans of HAL are wishing everyone on board well. Thank you for sharing what happens when things come to a grinding halt. I hope there will be better times to come. If there are no infections on board, I guess you are in a safer place than most of us. Good luck in the coming weeks.

  7. Werner Verbrugge

    March 17, 2020 at 10:19 am

    I’d like to wish All of the Crew, across all the ranks aboard, on ms Rotterdam and all the other ships of the fleet, a safe haven at sea (or in ports) during this worldwide health crisis !
    Keep going strong.

  8. Captain Albert,
    We have been on many cruises together and I enjoy your blogs. Thank you for keeping us updated on what is going on to the ships we love to cruise on.

  9. Dear Capt. Albert,
    We were on the Rotterdam cruise that ported in San Diego March 11, just before this one. We thought your lectures were a highlight of the trip, and I am just now seeing that they were planned to make up for having fewer entertainers. We truly enjoyed learning from you and seeing images from your collection, and we feel lucky to have had the chance to hear more from you!

    Our hearts go out to the Rotterdam crew. We had a wonderful cruise and have been thinking of many individuals working on that ship who are impacted by these events.

    All our best,
    Sarah and Joe

  10. michael R. gallagher

    March 17, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Confused! Last week HAL sent the link to final docs for a cruise originating April 27 in San Diego and ending up a week later in Canada. Now two California ports have closed to cruise ships and Canada will not accept cruise ships. Still no word from HAL on the status of the cruise. Our travel agent working the problem.

    • Captain Albert

      March 18, 2020 at 8:36 pm

      thank you for reading my blog.

      I think your cruise is still in the pipe line. HAL, as do the other cruise companies are answering /dealing with the guests cruise by cruise and so the april 27 departure is still in the pipe line. We are all hoping that things might have improved by then and we can sail.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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