- Captain Albert's Website and Blog -

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

15 October 2016; Boston, USA.

Today I returned to the high seas and this time it was the Veendam. The Lords of Change had decided that no change was needed to my schedule and I could stick to my planned schedule. So Veendam it is.  If the schedule will remain unchanged is anybody’s question.   The port of Boston was full today with the Veendam, the Zuiderdam and the Grandeur of the Seas in port together. These three took up the whole of the long berth of the Falcon Cruise terminal and gave my taxi driver a headache because of trying to find out which Gate was the right one to drop me off. The building of the Terminal is so high that from the street you cannot see what ship is on the other side, let alone where the stern stops and the bow starts.  But with the help of a friendly policeman, the ships agent was found and I was taken behind the security gates.

It was good to see my old ship back again; I was captain on her from 2004 to 2008 and had since then only visited sporadically. So now we are back for three weeks, for training, auditing, creating a bit of mayhem with drills and offering words of wisdom (when asked………………). As the winter is coming to the East Coast, the Veendam is on a cruise from Montreal down to Fort Lauderdale and will then start a Tran’s canal cruise to San Diego. When we arrive there on November 5th. it will also be the end of my period on board, unless things change.  It is a short of snowbird migration that is going on, as the Zuiderdam, on a 12 day cruise from Quebec is doing the same thing. She also will end up in Fort Lauderdale to commence her winter season.

After Boston, we will visit New York on the 17th. Charleston on the 19th. and then Fort Lauderdale on the 21st. As Boston is a handy port for flights, we had a small crew change over today and that will take some of the pressure away in Fort Lauderdale when the regular crew large change over takes place. The more we can spread out those crew changes the better it is for the continuity on board and the least the guests will notice the change.

Staff Captain Andrew Barker briefing the team for departure. The Captain is the 2nd one on the left, the local pilot is on the far right.

Staff Captain Andrew Barker briefing the team for departure. The Captain is the 2nd one on the left, the local pilot is on the far right, leaning on the radar console.

The good ship Veendam is under the command of Capt. Noel Driscoll who has been around since 1999 and his first ship was the Veendam as well, so he has come full circle so to speak. He originates from Ireland and he is one of a few of the Irish Officers we took on in the mists of time who stayed the course and settled down at Holland America.

The rest of the Deck officers are roughly of the 50 – 50 percent mix between British and Dutch. Through the years the company has figured out that the two groups together enhance each other and push the mutual quality of the whole group up to a higher level. As one of my colleagues once said, we teach the Dutch how to speak proper English and they teach us common sense. (Or was it the other way around???)

The Zuiderdam going astern with a container ship on the portside and the Grandeur of the Seas on the starboard side.

The Zuiderdam going astern with a container ship on the portside and the Grandeur of the Seas on the starboard side.

The Falcon cruise terminal has an excellent location, being close to downtown and not too far away from the Airport; but has one set back and that its fairway to get in and out is rather small. If there are three cruise ships in line and a container ship at the berth at the other side, then there is not much room left, especially if it blows from the wrong direction. Today we had very little wind but still the Veendam had to wait for 30 minutes until the Zuiderdam had pulled out and gone astern before she could follow.  We needed a little bit of the Zuiderdams docking space before we also could go sideways and into the middle of the channel. Boston has approval for a $300 million port dredging plan and the money has been allocated on federal and state level but they have to wait until the person has been found who will really write the cheque. Last night I heard a Lady on the local TV saying that this might be within the next two years.  So until that time, the mud will decide other departure sequence.

Tomorrow we are at sea, sailing at a slow speed to the Port of New York where we will arrive on the 17th. The weather is getting chillier but is supposed to remain good, and a bit of a chill in the air will reduce the chance of “very low hanging clouds” and that is a definite bonus.






  1. Welcome back Captain Albert,

    I have missed your wonderful blogs while you were enjoying a well earned vacation.

    Looking forward with great interest to your future blogs , they are part and parcel of my daily diet.

    Best regards

    Ted Dixon , Cape Town

  2. Welcome back from vacation Captain Albert we look forward to your stories and insight from the high seas.
    Roger T

  3. Welcome back! I look forward to your blogs and to your reports of the Panama Canal transit. Do you know your schedule as far out as April? You were Captain of the previous Noordam when we sailed on our first trip to Alaska. I’d enjoy learning whether we might sail with you again, albeit in your new status with HAL.

  4. Missed Career at Sea

    October 16, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Welcome back too Captain Albert!
    A dry sponge is ready to absorb more of your input of the seas. I never tire of learning more, knowledge obviously that I can use in areas not so obvious to others.
    Happy to have you back, at least, on the screen.

  5. Captain Albert, welcome back from your vacation. I look forward to continue learning as I read your interesting and informative blog. I am very appreciative of you taking the time to meet with me while we were aboard the Rotterdam this Summer. That was very kind of you and I thank you very much!

  6. G. E. "Robbie"Robinson

    October 17, 2016 at 1:17 am

    I, too, welcome you back and once again, I look forward to your daily blogs.

  7. Robina Herrington

    October 17, 2016 at 2:10 am

    Welcome back Captain,
    I have really missed your wonderful Blogs, my bedtime reading!
    I hope you have enjoyed your .Vacation

    Safe and happy sailing

    Best wishes Robina

  8. My late husband and I cruised with you onboard Veendam back in 2007, when we heard of your blog. Have been reading it ever since. Always enjoyable.

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