- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

10 Nov. 2018: Nieuw Statendam Building, 20 days to go.

Yesterday I showed the painter in action at the Front Desk. Today I can show the results. All is ready to start receiving Guests. As deck 3 is part of the Music Walk and Opposite the Grand Dutch Café, the art here is a combination of the two. A musical instrument decorated with a Dutch Tile style scene.

Today was the day of the great HAL migration. We all moved on board apart from the officers living on Navigation Deck as their cabins will only be delivered next week. So from 06.00 hrs. onwards bus after bus departed from the various hotels and brought crew members to the ship. They all could go directly to their own cabins even while the ship around them is still being finished. It gives a sort of feeling as if you are buying a new house, and while already sleeping in the bedrooms, downstairs is still being wall papered and carpeted. Your fridge is in place but the tape is still on the outside door and the instructions are still in the Freezer compartment. A ship delivery is not much different, it is just happening on a larger scale. With the crew on board, the catering has started up as well and both the Dirty Officers Mess, Petty Officers Mess and the Crew Mess are now in operation. The Food and Beverage manager has created a complete schedule which runs until delivery and this also includes test runs of the Specialty Restaurants on Board and the Lido. That should start to happen near the end of the week.

Maybe not a very sexy photo but these stores for spare parts are crucial to the ships operation. And we have a large number of them in various locations in the ship and a Technical Provision Master and team to administer it all.

The yard has put a lot of focus on getting store rooms and lockers ready all over the ship. Although you might think that full focus would be on delivering the Guest Area’s, the ship cannot sail without stores, spare parts and supplies, some of which will be items the guests will never see. But if your cabin mirror breaks then it is found normal that a new one pops up. We can do that because the ship carries spares so we do not have to wait it until Amazon delivers a new one. But all that material is stored somewhere on the ship and the crew has to get it onboard. Now there is still time, the closer to the delivery of the ship, the more precious time will be. Plus in the middle of next week, there will be the large drills for Flag and Port State to show that the crew is fully trained and the ship can receive its passport so we can sail. While Hotel has been loading stores already for more than a week, deck and engine (new mirrors fall under the engine department by means of the Hotel Services Engineer) will start in the coming week with bringing their supplies on board.

More art in the centre of the Music Walk.  I do not know who the Gentleman in the picture is but he is holding a record of Chet Baker, the jazz trumpeter.

I do not know if “Murder in Venice” is an appropriate theme for a cruise ship. But luckily it is hanging quite close to the Security Office, in case somebody gets inspired by it in the coming days.










I was not disappointed with my question of where that Opera House was located which is featured on a photo hanging on Deck 2 amidships. So we now all have to go to the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest to see the real thing. Some more photos have appeared on the bulkheads but the larger pieces of art still have to arrive. Thus today some more art from Deck 2. The wall decoration in the Ocean Bar and two photos hanging along the Music Walk. All the Art (at least as far as I know) is organized by a company called Artlink. (www.artlink.com) and they specialize in bringing forward artists and their work that is a bit more whimsical, quirky or makes people pause and think. I am by no means an Art historian but as Art is linked to the interiors of Ocean Liners and Cruise Ships I am quite fascinated by it.

This is the piano side of the lounge area, which is split in two halves by a semi separating bulkhead. Here is where most of the guests wait before going to dinner in one of the specialty restaurants.

If you go through Ocean Liner history until the 1920’s ships art consisted mostly of decorated wood (which covered pipes, grills and radiators) and painted ceilings and furniture which imitated what could be found in the houses of those who occupied the ships public rooms. Then Art Deco arrived and art became part of the ships design and the ships became floating exhibitions of the industrial might of the Home Country (Think about the Normandie, Queen Mary etc.) After  WWII it was still showing off what a country could do but in a more minimalistic way (Think United States, Rotterdam, France). Then with the arrival of the Cruise ships Art took another turn by filling blank spaces or creating focus points.

Holland America decided for her ships to go for a ship wide theme and between 1983 and 2010 that was mainly the Rich Dutch History. From 2010 onwards there was the subtle shift towards a different theme and that culminated in the Music Walk in 2016 for the Koningsdam. Now we have a relation between the ships layout, the ships art and the ships entertainment which all comes together in one philosophy.

Nothing to do with art, but still skillful. The Tailors were today installing their sewing machines.

Today was Saturday and it was slightly quieter on board. But the painters were still in full swing and in some areas the subcontractors were still working away at paneling and carpeting and that will continue until the whole ship has been completed. The yards operation might have slowed down a little bit, ships side is definitely gearing up as more areas become accessible to use.

Ever realized how many computer terminals, printers and other office equipment there is on board ? We have a complete “War Room” here where a group experts assemble, install and then check if everything works before the ship becomes operational. nearly all office computers and bar terminals are connected to a main frame server and it all has to be tested to see if it does what it is supposed to do.


  1. Angela Eggleston

    November 10, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Captain Albert, why does everyone connected to the cruise industry (not just Holland America Line) call us paying passengers “guests”? Maybe it’s quibbling, but I dislike being called a “guest” when in reality I am a passenger. I correct everyone who addresses me as a guest. Back in the 1970s, we were called passengers. Slowly over the years, as a certain area on a ship changed from “Purser’s Office” to “Guest Relations” we became known as “guests”. Technically, we’re customers. Any idea why we’re referred to as “guests”?

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      I do not know why the other cruise lines are doing it, maybe they are just copying Holland America. We started with the “guest” name in 1984 when the Noordam (III) came out. We launched that year our “Ocean Liner” service philosophy and it was felt that the word passengers was a description which was connected to the voyage with the intention to go somewhere and use the ship as a means of transport. E.G “booking a passage between X and Y”. Making a cruise is not exactly a passage as it a destination itself and most of the time you end up where you started. (Hence the phrase “going nowhere at great expense”).
      In the 1980’s many Holland America Line clients had still sailed on the North Atlantic with the company or they knew the history of the company. To show the world that HAL was producing a top cruise product and not a luxury bus service, it was decided to do a renaming of our clientele. And it has remained so since. (A similar thing is that we do not talk about cabins anymore but about staterooms)

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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