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

17 March 2013; At Sea, 2nd Day.

I have no proof that global warming is really a big issue or not but if you look at the wind in the Caribbean Sea, you would certainly say so. It seems that it is blowing harder and harder each year. The normal trade winds give around 16 knots but today we had consistently over 30 knots. That is Wind force 7 to 8; Gale force winds, while the weather chart did not really indicate stormy weather. Yes there is still a cold front in the area but it normally does not generate such winds. Luckily for us, the average speed to maintain to Aruba is about 17 knots and I let the ship run a bit faster while in sheltered waters yesterday and thus we could sail with 16 knots today. A nice speed to avoid the bow from bumping into each and every wave out there. Those who walked around the deck enjoyed a big push in the back the moment they came around the bow when going from starboard to port, counter clockwise, as the wind was mainly on the portside. Those were the clever people. The ones walking around the other way had to struggle against the wind all along the portside promenade deck. Most guests walk counter clockwise, it is a sort of natural thing to do on the ship but there is always one……… who has to go the other way. 

An interesting phenomenon that is currently taking place in the company is the number of anniversaries with a high number of years. The company has been working very diligently in the last decade to keep a high retention rate among officers and crew and it seems to start to pay off. I see more and more officers and crew, especially those in end ranks, who reach 25, 30 or even 40 years. Among the Deck and engine officers the high numbers are less, because out of  the 12 engineers and 8 deck officers at any given time only one can become Chief Engineer or Master but in the lower ranks we are seeing the numbers going up. Something to rejoice in and I do enjoy the occasions that I can congratulate a crewmember for his/her achievement and hand out a company token of appreciation.

This cruise we have two crewmembers who reached the 25 year mark and one officer, the Canaletto Manager who reached 35 years. 25 Years gives a Diamond Studded Service Pin and 35 years is recognized with a Small Grand Father Clock. (Then there is also a “happy envelope” that goes with it) We have no protocol of how to carry out the recognition but most captains do the same as I and the higher years are recognized in public. The coming 25 year recipients will be recognized during the Mariners Medal handout party the day after tomorrow. For the 35 year recipient, I have scheduled him in for the Captain’s Introduction starting next cruise, so there is maximum exposure with all guests during the two pre show sessions.


blog sriyonoThe Statendam employee of the Month of March is Mr. Sriyono who works as a wiper in the Engineroom. He has been with Holland America for three years and lives in Central Java, Indonesia. The gentleman to the left is the Chief Engineer Mr. Tom Mahon.




Apart from these recognitions there is the standard Employee of the Month. It is partly a routine but with so many outstanding crewmembers on board is still quite hard to choose one. In principle the cycle goes over the three departments, with the Hotel department getting twice the chance as most crew are working there. So the cycle is deck, hotel, engine, hotel and then back to deck again. Here the recognition is a certificate and a happy envelope. As the employee of the Month is introduced during the Captains Welcome on Board Toast, he/she can be lucky or unlucky. If we make a long cruise, then there might only be two appearances in the whole month. If we make 4 seven day cruises, then it is show time eight times in the month. The –happy envelope- amount does not change and thus results in less money per appearance. Still most crew feel honored and enjoy the experience, provided that they get the photos so they can show them at home.

We are scheduled to arrive at the OranjeStad, Aruba, Pilot station at 08.45 and I am not completely a happy camper as it is supposed to blow quite hard. The Paardenbaai is not that wide and the wind is setting the ship, when coming in, directly towards the reefs so I am contemplating to get a tugboat as some cheap insurance in case we end up docking in a squall. It is a holiday tomorrow, National Flag day, commemorating their independence from the Netherlands and most shops will be closed. A bit of a basic start to the cruise, wind, rain and no shops.


  1. Joke timmermans

    March 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Wat fijn om je weer te volgen. Het kan dan wel hard waaien maar zo koud als het nu steeds is, dat hoeft voor mij ook niet.
    Ik heb je trouwens niet meer gezien. Volgende keer beter. Ga nu naar ocean grove in australie. Lekker weer.
    Maar blijf je wel volgen. Een hele goede tijd aan boord met veel mooi weer.
    Verleden jaar was ik ook bij je op de reis. Heerlijk.
    Wens je veel vaarplezier

  2. Joke Timmermans

    March 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Hallo captain.
    I have make a mistake to wright in Dutch.
    But it is nice to follow you again and there is so much wind but better than here in the netherlands
    I have made up my mind and will fly over two weeks to australie Ocean Grove victoria
    Here it is terrible
    Many regards and have a very nice time on board and nice weather
    On board Catharina

  3. Hi Capt, quickie please; with Capt. Consen no doubt already enjoying his well-deserved retirement, who does that leave as HAL’s senior captain at the moment in terms of time on in rank; Capt. Eversen, Mercer, Bos?

    • Hello Copper,

      I really do not know. Mercer came from another company so I do not know if he came in with seniority in 1994. Van Zaane was first captain in 1994, Bos was in 1997. and I do not know what the company did when they phased the Windstar Captains in.
      Also the significance of the senior captain is fading. In the old days the senior master would always sail on the largest ship, but that came to an end with the Amsterdam in 2000 and later the Eurodam and with Frans Consen prefering the Statendam.

      So I do not have a clear cut answer, and I wonder if there ever will be one.

      thanks for reading my blog

      Capt. albert

  4. Captain,

    The Statendam has been working for HAL for 20 years this month. We first cruised on her March 1993 from San Juan to Fort Lauderdale on a 11 day cruise. She launched a new era for the company in ship building.

    Happy 20 years Statendam taking so many of us around the world.

    Rob Marshall

  5. Thanks for ‘splainin’ Capt. Nice travels to the City of the Padres! 🙂 Watch out for those Mexican Navy CB90 fast attack boats! 😉

  6. Sir,
    As a meteorologist, I can tell you global warming would not cause more wind. Temperature contrasts and the difference in pressure between highs and lows cause wind. The winds you’ve been experiencing in the Caribbean are being caused by the winter-type weather over North America. If the whole planet is warmer, there would be fewer storms.

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