- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

20 November 2017; At Sea.

A quiet and sunny day at sea today; that is what everybody needed after hopping 4 ports in a row. The weather was true to form and we had a perfect cruise day to enjoy. Also the bridge team were happy as the expected current along the coast came through and pushed us along with 0.5 knots every hour free of charge. On 32 hours sailing that is at least 16 miles free of charge or a one hour sailing free. If the ship burn 90 tons of fuel every 24 hours then we are looking at, at least 3 to 4 tons of fuel saved. That makes the chief engineer happy and every little bit helps as well to keep costs under control. And lower costs will have a positive effect on the ticket price for a cruise.

With very little wind, there were hardly any waves, just a bit of a long low running swell coming from the Pacific Ocean. With a smooth sea surface it makes it a lot easier to spot wild life and we were not disappointed as we saw dolphins and loads of lazy turtles slowly peddling to a destination obviously important to a turtle. They always seem to go a in North Westerly direction as we always see them swimming in line with our course line. Never coming from port to starboard. Maybe they use the current to help them move along or there is somehow nothing of “turtle interest” along the Mexican coast so they simply pass it by.

My day was filled today with clearing up loose ends and to conduct some training’s and drills. Most important of that was a Damage Control drill for the engineers that make up the Damage Control Teams on board as plugging holes and pipes is a technical expertise. In the same way as the deck officers are responsible for lowering lifeboats in an emergency. My challenge is always to make a damage control drill realistic and meaningful. I cannot cut a hole in the hull of the ship and say “plug it” and I cannot put a compartment on board under water either.  So it needs creativity. Sometimes I have the option to build a wall on the outside deck with fire hoses spouting water through holes in the wooden paneling but then I have to block off a deck. And you do not want to do that on a nice day as we had to day. Guests wanted to be out there and so they should.

Smoke / white haze coming out of various openings which will need to be plugged.

This time I built a smoke box and the smoke simulated the ingress of water. The idea remained the same; plug the holes, if no smoke escapes any more than the hull is watertight again. Luckily a cruise ship always has plenty material available to create a mock up and with 3 luggage bins, damage control support wood, tarpaulins and a smoke machine we were in business. How you patch holes is something that you cannot learn from a book. You have the tools, you have the equipment and for the rest it is engineering ingenuity. Today they used a mattress shored up with wood for the big holes and wooden kegs for the small holes and in 30 minutes time it was all patched up and considered safe by the chief engineer.

Installing a Mattress to block the large holes.

Tomorrow we will be in Puerto Vallarta and that will be my last day on the ship. The ship will dock at 08.00 hrs.  and we will be at berth 2.  There is supposed to be a Princess ship coming as well and going to berth 3. Normally berth 1 is the cruise terminal but that is (still) under re-development and thus we are going to berth 2. Much to the satisfaction of the crew as berth 2 is a bit closer to the shopping center across the road while berth 1 is a bit closer to the city side. Berth 3 is the furthest out but benefits from having the buses for shore excursions being parked the closest to the ship. Thus every berth has something to offer and I do not know which is the best one.  We are looking at another good day in Puerto Vallarta. Sunny, warm and not too humid. I think the guests can consider themselves very lucky with this cruise.

The radar chart picture of Puerta Vallarta. Here the ship is docked at berth 3. Today we were at berth 2, close to the shopping center.

From Puerta Vallarta I will fly home via Mexico City and Amsterdam. I have been away from home for nearly 3 months so it is time to go and see “senior management” again.  Also next week I have to attend a training course at our simulator at C-Smart in Almere the Netherlands.  If I get the chance to take some photos then I will post them in due course on the blog.  And then my vacation will start until the first week of February.

If nothing changes, ………….. although it normally does,………………… but if nothing changes , then I will return to the Westerdam for another School Class with new Navigators. But that is all depending on cabin availability, so I might also end up on another ship. Never a dull moment if you work for Holland America.

Time to say thank you to all my readers from the past period. I hope you found my daily blog of interest and maybe even diverting at times. I should be back with the blog after the first week of February. I hope to add some more material to the historical past of the blog but that will depend among other things upon the “honey do” list of my wife and needs of the apartment building I live in. But the first job at home will be to get all the Christmas tree’s out of the loft and install them in the apartment. So from my side: Happy holidays and a prosperous and blessed 2018.


  1. Thank you again for sharing your fascinating work with us. Happy Holidays to you and the Boss.

  2. Christopher Jordan

    November 21, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Many thanks for your most interesting reports. I look forward to reading them every day.

    Happy holidays, Cap’n

  3. Having enjoyed the Panama Canal Transit from FLL to SAN this past April, I was pleased to be able to re-live it in both directions through your blog posts. Enjoy your time at home. Best wishes for the entire holiday season. I keep hoping that our paths will again cross someday on a HAL cruise. My husband and I met you at a VIP event on the old Noordam cruising to Alaska, sometime around 1995.

  4. Captain Albert,
    Many thanks for the information and entertainment you so kindly provide for your readers. As always, your blog is a daily event I am programmed to access the moment it is published.
    Your soon expiring one on WESTERDAM has to be one of the better ones I’ve read all those years. I hope HAL will leave you to enjoy a most well deserved time off, after Almere.
    Looking forward to your return to ”blog duty”. Have a most gratifying Holiday. Health and happiness for 2018.

  5. I always enjoy reading your blog. My nephew has just started as a second officer on another cruise line and I enjoy reading about navigational situations he may be encountering.

  6. Natasha and Henri van Bentum

    November 21, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Ahoy Captain Albert – thank you for your latest round of blog posts. We sailed with you on a Panama (repositioning) sailing back in 2011 aboard the “Amsterdam” and still have fond memories. I only wish back then we had access to the insights you give in your blog, it’s wonderful. Looking forward to the next series.

  7. Thank you so much for your most interesting blog. It is great to read about the “behind the scene” activities.

  8. G. E. "Robbie" Robinson

    November 22, 2017 at 1:46 am

    Thanks for your blogs! Enjoy your vacation and I look forward to the time that you resume your blogs. Also, hope to catch up to you on a future cruise.

  9. I will miss your blogs…come back soon

  10. Many thanks for your main stage presentation, enjoy your return to “senior management!”

  11. Thank you Captain Albert for your interesting blog. Best wishes for your upcoming break and I look forward to reading about your travels again in 2018.

  12. Captain Albert,
    Some time ago I asked if you could put numbers on a chart for us to show the locations of berths 1, 2 and 3 in Puerto Vallarta. You did that and it clears that up for me and maybe others.

    Thank you and enjoy your time off.
    Safe travels to you.
    Roger T

  13. Missed Career at Sea

    November 23, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    It’s that time at the end of the year again, Captain. Nice that you can be home for the year-end holidays. It’s also slowly getting back to the routine without the HAL cruise ships! Meaning, having time to “surf” again in the computer for answers to many questions.
    CSMART Academy is “some” complex with the state of the art training equipment. Very impressive.
    At the other end of the “polder” there is another sort of an academy complex in the Swifterband area. Recently there has been built a second building all done by 200 skilled volunteers.
    Have an enjoyable holiday with family and friends. Watch the waistline, but have a few marsepeintjes on me!

  14. ik heb met plezier en interesse Uw blogs gelezen en wens U ook fijne feestdagen en gezegend 2018 toe.

  15. Same holiday wishes for you, Capain Albert. I faithfully read your posts daily Sometimes you “make my day” Zalig Kerstfeest, Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar, my best wishes for your (Lesley) management, and I will look forward to your future blogs……..Ruud

  16. I have a new e-mail address as above. How can I delete the old one?

    • Good morning,

      thank you for reading my blog. The only way this works, is to un-subscribe under the old email, and then subscribe again for the new email address.

      Sorry for the inconvenience but there seems to be no other options/

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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