- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

19 April 2015; Sea of Marmara, Turkey.

And then we had a bit of excitement after departure. A small cargo vessel had caught fire and thus the Prinsendam went to the rescue. Luckily by the time we arrived the fire had been extinguished by the crew and thus the only function the ship had to perform was to coordinate a salvage tug with the local authorities.


Unknown Cargo Vessel that caught fire outside Kusadasi. (Photo Courtesy Captain Tim Roberts)

Unknown Cargo Vessel that caught fire outside Kusadasi. (Photo Courtesy Captain Tim Roberts)

This was not so simple because when the fire started the cargo ship was in Greek Waters. So the Bridge called the Greek authorities using a Greek 2nd officer who we have on board. While this conversation was going on the little ship drifted into Turkish Waters and the Greeks did not want to know anymore. Thus a casino employee was called to the bridge and then she could tell the Turkish locals that it was time for them to do something.  So after a 45 minute delay we were on our way again.

The ship had put on a special Holland America Line dinner by using a menu from the ss Rotterdam from the early sixties. In those days most of the entries were described in French and thus we had that tonight. It was quite interesting to hear the Indonesian Crew taking and repeating the orders in French. Most of them did not, so chicken soup remained chicken soup however hard I tried to get them say: Bouillon de petite Marmite.

Mpst of the Monuments are located in the area marked yellow on this chartlet.

Most of the Monuments are located in the area marked yellow on this chartlet.

The weather for today had looked a bit iffy to say the least but on arrival in the Dardanelles it was dry and the sun rose as scheduled, so the guests had a good look from 06.00 hrs. onwards. We in the Western world tend to think of the casualties sustained by the Allied Forces but the other side suffered as much, maybe even worse and for that side there are memorials as well.

One of the Turkish Monuments laid out against the hill side.

One of the Turkish Monuments laid out against the hill side.

One of them we passed around 0700 hrs.  Luckily most sights are on the left bank when going north and thus the sun shone the right way.

By 08.30 the ship was in the Sea of Marmara heading full speed for Istanbul. We were unlucky in that way, that the wind and the rain started to come over and we kept that until arrival this afternoon at 16.00 hrs.  Due to the cargo ship, the wind and the adverse current, the plans of arriving earlier did not bear fruit. But we still arrived on time.

DSC00334Still nobody had to be outside as yours truly took to the stage to bring 142 years of HAL history in 80 minutes. Everybody stayed but whether this was due to my eloquence or the fact that there was Holland America Cake to be served at the end of it the lecture, is very much open to debate.

Going  by the schedules on line and what transpired from shore side it looked like that we were the only cruise ship in and so it did not make sense that we were sent to a farther out located dock. Not that I minded as I remembered that this dock would put us with the nose looking right at the old city and nothing to hinder our view. And this was indeed the case. While coming in, there were already four cruise ships alongside and we went for the final dock, which is almost on top of the bridge leading into the old city.  Nice to have a drink in the crow’s nest while admiring the skyline of Istanbul. The only thing is, it is a bit of a distance away from the Cruise Terminal and the check in location.

As soon as we arrived disembarkation started for those who had flights booked for the coming night.  Then we are already expecting new guests to board in the course of the evening so it will be a busy evening for the Hotel Department.

My wife is leaving tomorrow and thus we have planned a little farewell dinner in the Canaletto Restaurant on board overlooking the Bosporus. Tomorrow the ship will spend a full day in Istanbul and the weather is supposed to clear going for sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s.


  1. Roger Tollerud

    April 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Captain Albert
    I loved the story about how the Captain handled the various Greek and Turkish language issues surrounding the disabled cargo ship. It is indeed a total crew effort!
    Thank you again.
    Roger T

  2. Missed Career at Sea

    April 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    ‘Talking’ about rescuing another sailing vessel, Captain. As you must know, the Prinsendam had passed the area where, on 20 April, another (wooden) boat sank off the coast of Greece in Aegean Sea full with migrants from Libya. What a cruise ship can encounter these days in open waters ! We must live in ‘different times’, don’t we !

    On a lighter note, you found out that the Indonesian Crew is also schmart and ‘modest’. As an “Indisch Spreekwoord” zegt, “We niet sterk is, moet slim is”. Wish I were there ……………..

  3. Dear Captain,

    we did have the great chance to follow your history talk already 3 times and ben always impresses about the coverage and its HAL development.
    But is it possible to get a PDF copy from it.

    Your blog is indeed splendid.

    Many thanks in advance

    Anna & Gerd

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      It is an interesting idea that I will have to think about. At the moment I can not do it as everything is only in my head and I use
      just a small cheat sheet for some numbers relating to the various ships. so maybe one day……………..

      I hope that you are enjoying the cruise.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  4. Margaret Piper

    April 23, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    I too would appreciate a pdf. But that would not include your humour which is such an important element of your presentation.
    Thanks again

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