- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

2021 Feb. 17; Waiting for Better Times.

Dear Readers,

Here a little update from my side.  I have not posted since July 20 last year as the worldwide situation was so fluid that any update from my side would be old news, before it was uploaded.

I hope that everybody is doing well and adhering to the precautions needed for succeeding in defeating the Covid-19 virus. Here in England vaccination is well on its way and it is now becoming apparent that the continuous spread of the virus is mainly due to not keeping a social distance, wearing a mask and washing your hands.   Not much different as what we were used to in the past when there was a norovirus challenge on the ships. The Covid-19 virus is of course much more aggressive and deadly but the principles of combating it are not much different. Remember when you were on the ships; Sing happy birthday twice when washing your hands with water and soap. If we not all do our little thing, then we will never get the cruise ships going again.

And when that will be is a big question mark. So follow the company’s announcements about the when but a lot will depend on how fast a considerable number of the public can be vaccinated.  Until that time all the cruise ships remain in short term lay-up and our HAL ships are basically split up in two groups.  For those who lost track at the end of this blog a little listing of where our ships currently are.

Tor Bay anchorage on 16 February 2021  Left to Right:  ms Oosterdam, ms Zaandam,  ms Eurodam, ms Volendam (closest ship) (Photo courtesy unknown publisher on the internet)

As the ships are still in hot lay-up, I cannot sail yet as my function of Fleet Master depends on travelling around the fleet and that is not possible. Plus the number of crew on the ships is the bare minimum to keep the ships safely maintained and that also reduces my role on board.  Thus I am at home and my wife and I are shielding as much as possible to protect my mother in law, who just reached the blessed age of a 100 and is in our bubble.

I can still support the ships to a certain extent with advice and suggestions and that is an every morning activity.  The rest of my daily time (when not doing the ironing and the washing up) is spent on my hobby which is of course to a great extent Holland America Line. Numerous Captains’ biographies have been added to the website since last year and I am now nearing the captains of the 1950’s.

My latest book a 100 page a compacted Holland America Line history

Also on request of Ship’s Monthly I have produced a Book-a-zine (that is a book printed as a magazine) about the company. This is part of their “Ship’s of the World” series and offers an overview of our company by means of a not too expensive publication. For those who live in the UK and Europe it is £ 8.99 and available at W.H Smith (UK) and Bruna (Netherlands).

For those in the USA , I have been informed that Barnes & Noble was going to stock it but if you want to order from Europe, this is the link:

http://shop.kelsey.co.uk/WOS17

This link should work for anybody anywhere in the world as well.

I am not making any money out of it but it does help the economy. So if you would like to have a simple refresher about how all those “DAM” ships came about, then this is a good opportunity.

For the rest we have to wait until better times.

Where are the Ships today:

Europe: Tor Bay (near Southampton, England)

Eurodam:    Torbay

Oosterdam:  Torbay

Volendam: Tor Bay

Zaandam: Tor Bay

North America:

Nieuw Statendam: Bahamas

Koningsdam:  Near Los Angeles

Nieuw Amsterdam: Near Los Angeles

Noordam: Near Los Angeles

Westerdam: Off the coast of California

Zuiderdam: Bahia California anchorage

49 Comments

  1. It’s so good to hear from your Captain Albert. Please continue to stay safe and keep us updated.

  2. Jolanda Oostewegel

    February 18, 2021 at 12:06 am

    Thank you, good to hear from you.
    Better days will come for sure for all of us.
    Hope to see you on the Rotterdam VII in August,
    You and your family stay well.

  3. Heather Braithwaite

    February 18, 2021 at 12:08 am

    Thank you Captain Albert for the update. Great to “see” your voice again. Wishing you mother in law a very happy 100th belated birthday.
    Stay safe

  4. Wonderful to hear from you again Albert. We look forward to another dinner and or chat on another Dam ship in the not too distant future. Well wishes to you, Leslie, and birthday wishes to your MIL! Stay safe,
    Tallulah and OK

  5. So happy to hear from you and to learn you and your family are safe. You have been sorely missed as has cruising.

    Here in California, I’ve had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine with the second one due the week of my birthday. Thst would be a very welcomed gift.

    Stay safe and thank you gor keeping us informed.

  6. Hello Capt. So good to hear from you again. Thanks for the notes from your home life and HAL. Hope you remember me Cellar Master Leo T. Flynn. I wirked with you on Prinsendam and also served on Volendam, Oosterdam as Cellar Master. Was Wine Steward and Inaugural crew on the last Rotterdam. Also served as zhotel Manager with Linblad Expedition and as waiter on Royal Viking Sea. I always read your blog and once again to good to hear from you.

  7. Nice to hear from you! Glad you’re staying safe at home and are doing well. I just got my second shot last week and look forward to traveling again. Just ordered the magazine/book… looks wonderful!!

  8. Great to see you back posting again. We can’t wait to get back on a DAM ship.

  9. It is good to hear from you, Captain, and to hear that both the ironing and washing up are being tended to.

    We have a cruise/tour in Alaska booked for June on Nieuw Amsterdam. Sadly, I don’t think it will operate because of the recent extension of the ban on cruising by the Canadian Government.

    Hopefully we will all be at sea again soon.

  10. What would be fun to know about, is how one becomes the captain of a ship.. maybe the history of it going way back of what you have to do to rise through the ranks, to modern times… And where does one go to school to learn this so glad to see your post can’t wait to weaken travel again!

  11. Great to see you back on the air Captain. Stay safe.

  12. So pleased to hear all is well and to hear of the positions of the ships this week.
    I have purchased the Ship’s Monthly magazine today, and look forward to reading it, though it may be a little delayed as I am in Sydney Australia.
    Take care and all the best.

  13. Thank you for your report. After getting our second vaccine in March, I will look for your book at our nearby Barnes and Noble store.
    My husband and I are hoping to join the Rotterdam VII in late September, staying on though the transatlantic cruise to Fort Lauderdale. Will you
    also be checking on the Rotterdam as it begins it’s sea trials?

  14. Captain Albert – thank you for resuming your blog. As you say we are looking to a positive future and many of us have cruises booked knowing and at the same time accepting that we may have to change the date. I for one really appreciate this return to ‘normality’ as a step in the right direction. Enjoy your time on land .

  15. Thank you for the update Captain. Good to hear from you again.

  16. It was great to again read the Captain’s blog! Hopefully, we all will be sailing in the not to distant future!

  17. Thank you Captain Albert for your post! So good to get this update and know that you all are well. Congratulations to your mother-in-law on her 100th birthday! What a wonderful milestone especially in these trying times.
    Having been on a couple of ships where you gave talks (last one the final cruise of the Prinsendam), I am certain that the book-a-zine will be a winner! Can’t wait to be sailing with HAL & you again. Take good care of yourselves.

  18. Wonderful to hear from you again and hopefully it will not be too long before we have “live” reports from shores near and far.
    Keep well!

  19. It was great to see you post again. I always look forward to them. Perhaps you could share with us some of your morning advice to the ships, as well as updating us on the progress of the new Rotterdam.

    Regards,

    Tom Hoffman

  20. Thank you Captain Albert for the update. So appreciated and happy to hear you and family are safe.

    Still optimistic we will be cruising again on the new Rotterdam for 40+ days this fall.

    Bruce

  21. Where can I buy your book- azine in Canada?? Would love to purchase a copy.

    • Captain Albert

      February 18, 2021 at 11:37 am

      Thank you for your query,

      apart from what Barnes and Noble can do, all sales are from the UK unfortunately.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  22. Natasha van Bentum

    February 18, 2021 at 1:56 am

    Ahoy Captain Albert – very good to receive your post. We had just been wondering when we might hear from you again. Thank you for keeping us up-to-date. Best wishes, Natasha and Henri

  23. Gerry Postnikoff

    February 18, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Welcome back, you’ve been missed! Stay safe, stay well.

  24. Very nice to get a “leven’s teken” from you Captain ! Glad you and your wife are well. Tessa and I are doing our part also as far as staying in our “bubble”. I have a 90 year old friend who is in my bubble as well and I walk across the meadows several times a week to visit her. And that is about all the contacts I have. I am waiting for my 4th cruise to be cancelled ,but am hopeful the 2 I have tentatively booked for 2022 will take place ! I am certainly getting cruise withdrawal symptoms !!Btw, my ironing basket is getting rather full and since your at it …. LOL
    Kind regards, Gerdina

  25. Thank you, Captain!
    Great to hear from you. Looking forward to our next HAL Cruise.

  26. What a delight to hear from you, Captain Albert! We’ve had our first shots, waiting for the second dose, and can’t wait to sail off into the sunset on a Dam ship again!

  27. So glad to hear from you, captain. To hear your rational cyber voice is like a sign that we are heading slowly back to a normal life. I am in California and my favorite ship, Konigsdam is nearby. So near but so far, alas. I am ready when she is ready. I have booked for February 2022.
    We are all in this together.

  28. Paula Volkerts van Hoogendaal. - Boef

    February 18, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Heel fijn weer van u te horen. Ik kan niet wachten weer op reis te gaan (ik werk regelmatig met groepen op de HAL schepen) maar we willen allemaal graag veilig op reis uiteraard.
    Mijn vraag voor u is: werkt Capt. Frank van der Hoeven nog voor de HAL? Volendam .
    Hoop dat er binnen afzienbare tijd nog weer eens een up-date van u komt.
    M vr gr

    • Captain Albert

      February 18, 2021 at 11:35 am

      thank you for your query,

      Yes captain van der Hoeven is still with the HAL and is still assigned to the Volendam.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  29. henri slingerland van bemmelen

    February 18, 2021 at 10:04 am

    perfecto hearing again the news and reading your blog.
    Is it already known how many captains took early retirement? This given the fact that the fleet is now ony 10 (11) in stead of 14.

    • Captain Albert

      February 18, 2021 at 11:34 am

      Thank you for your question,

      None of the captains had to take early retirement. with the outstanding leave periods and everything, it could all be rescheduled. The only captain who did retire was Captain van Maurik, but that was already in his own planning from before Corona.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  30. Thank you for the update…..I also enjoyed your OLS zoom lecture very much….looking forward to future postings from you Captain !

  31. I always enjoy reading your stories. We remind you of a great cruise around South America and Antarctica on the delightful ship Ms Prinsendam. After we suddenly had to leave the Ms Rotterdam in Puerto Vallarte last March because of the pandemic, we are now unable to cruise. We had hoped to enjoy your stories because we saw that you were also on board. Hopefully this will happen again in the future. We have booked in through weather for March 27, 2022 on the Ms Nieuw Statendam in the Caribbean and on April 17 from Fort Lauderdale with the Ms Nieuw Rotterdam to Amsterdam. As you can see, we remain loyal to HAL and are hopeful that everything will turn for the better. I want to end with a Dutch greeting : het gaat u en de uwen goed, blijf gezond en tot weerziens.

  32. Robina Herrington

    February 18, 2021 at 11:57 am

    It makes it seem like normality is round the corner to read your Blog
    Thank you so much
    From Robina

  33. I followed your daily reports on the Nieuw Statendam’s buil.
    Is there anyone doing the same for the new flagship build out?

  34. Wonderful hearing from you. Thank you for the interesting read.

    Stay well and hope to hear from you soon

    Thank you

  35. Thank you so much for the updates Captain!! The whole world needs to get back to normal, and just having you write a blog does seem to bring back some normalcy!! Can not wait to cruise again as the weather has been so horrible, and the warmer climates sound so nice right now!! Stay healthy, and looking forward to hearing more from you!!

  36. What a happy surprise in my inbox today! Glad to hear you and your family are doing well and have, so far, escaped the plague! Thanks for the update on the ships! I do wonder what daily life is like on the ships these days. Perhaps you could gather some info to share with us.

  37. We surely miss your seense of humour that you showed at our induction to the Presidents Clunb last February. That was an evening that will long be remembered. We look forward to sailing again with you when Volendam returns to service.

  38. Great to hear from you. We surely miss your sense of humour and grace we experienced at our induction to the Presidents Club on the Grand So America. That is an evening that will always be remembered as the highlight of our many cruises withn HAL. We look forward to sailing with you again when Volendam returns to service.

  39. So good to read your post . Prayers for your mother in law, and blessings for your family!
    I have booked the Grand Africa for 22 knowing it could be postponed.. hopefully all ships will be back to sailing much sooner.
    I would love to read your book.

  40. Thank you for the updates, Captain. We enjoyed meeting you & your wife, & attending all your fascinating & informative presentations on the Prinsendam’s final cruise. We look forward to the day when all HAL employees are able to return, safely, to work & eager passengers can resume world travels. Here’s hoping this will happen in 2021. Meanwhile, stay safe & be well.

  41. I am looking forward to reading future updates.

  42. Paula Volkerts van Hoogendaal

    March 4, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Captain, ben benieuwd of er al iets bekend is over de doop v.d. ROTTERDAM. Waar, wanneer, door wie. Etc.
    M vr gr Paula

    • Captain Albert

      March 4, 2021 at 4:42 pm

      Mijn dank voor uw commentaar.

      Nee er is nog niets bekend, voornamelijk omdat we nog niet weten of het schip uberhaupt gaat varen of eerst ten anker gaat. Alles hangt af van de Covid situatie in Europa. Als het schip in de vaart komt, dan kan men een datum en een haven vast leggen, en dan ook een afspraak maken met een bekende persoonlijkheid die het mag gaan doen. Maar voorlopig is er nog niets concreets.

      mvg

      Capt. albert

  43. Hello Albert,

    Thanks for the up-dates. Do you have any preliminary views from the Rotterdam construction and furnishing as the ship should be in the decoration phase of building at this point.

  44. Roger Tollerud

    March 19, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    Captain Albert, So good to hear from you again. We have our shots and are ready to cruise the very moment we can. Hope to see your blog more often now as we get closer to sailing! Welcome back.
    Roger Tollerud

  45. Dear Captain Albert, I am so pleased to report to you that your book you have discussed in your February 17, 2021 post has arrived in Canada and in St. John’s Newfoundland & Labrador at Chapter’s Book Store. I am so happy to have this publication and still have great hopes to get your other book. The new book is beautiful with both colour and black and white pictures, and will have a place of honour on our family room coffee table along HAL Mariner Magazines. We hope you and your family are still doing well and hope you will be on the October 20, 2021 Rotterdam crossing. Kindest Regards, Bruce from St. John’s Newfoundland & Labrador.

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