- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

20July 2014; Seattle – USA.

Everything went as planned and by 0630, the ship was all fast under an overcast sky and with next to us the Grand Princess who is basically sailing the same cruise as we do and therefore never very far away.  In some ports they sail earlier than we do and in some ports they arrive later but in principle it is the same route that they follow. As both companies are now part of the HAL group (Consisting out of HAL, Princess, Seabourn and the Hal/Princess land tour part) it is basically one happy family that sails around in circles here. As with any change over port, the routine is the same as always, a very busy routine, which meant that apart from paperwork I was not in action today. I had my days outing courtesy of the CBP, as I had to oblige with the zero count = empty ship, required to ensure that everybody has gone through the CBP check and an hour later I was back on board.

The lack of adventure for today, gives me the chance to blog about something else. It has been announced a while ago already but it will come back time and time again until November 2015. And that is the transfer of the Statendam and the Ryndam. Two beloved ships but also part of the oldest class in the fleet.

A few years ago, our CEO Stein Kruse mentioned in a cruise magazine that he saw Holland America’s optimal size of fleet being 15 units. And now we have a 16th being readied, the Pinnacle-dam. (That is not the official name but the ship belongs to the new Pinnacle class). Based on that statement I was not so surprised for an announcement to be issued that one of the ships would have to go. I also was not surprised that it would be the Statendam as she is the oldest one. I had not expected two ships at the same time. Although the order of our new ship, also called for the option for a 2nd one, so maybe there is something there.

Now you can sell two very handy sized ships for a good price to a buyer but then they come back as direct competitors. Thus Carnival has instigated the policy to send smaller units to new markets. As a result the Statendam and Ryndam will go to P&O Australia. This company is also part of Carnival Corporation and Australia is very much an upcoming Cruise Market. The challenge is the size of the country, or better said the Continent. If you want to make cruising easy for newcomers, you do not want to have them fly for hours to something they do not know. But if you can get the ship to their doorstep, they might go for it, and once you have the cruise bug, you are hooked for life.

The way the ships might look like after the hand over. (Photo Courtesy; a creative soul on the internet, name unknown)

The way the ships might look like after the hand over. (Photo Courtesy; a creative soul on the internet, name unknown)

Thus down under is very much a target area for Carnival Corp and that means that you have the start with smaller ships. In the same way as they developed the Spanish market with Iberos Cruceros. Also here smaller ships haven been brought in already. P&O Australia has a number of ships that are smaller units of P&O/Princess.

The changeover will start in November 2015 when both ships will receive a makeover to get them ready for the Aussie & Kiwi market. I do not know what this make over will entail but I would be willing to bet a few dollars on it, that they will install another bar or two, as they do like a drink down there.

I will be sad to see the two ships go, as they were very beloved by our guests. I liked them as well, as they were very handy in maneuvering and had a lot of power for their size. However in order to keep the majority of our clientele happy, the company has to continue offering the latest in the industry and that means constant renewal.

Down under they are ready for them. The first thing they did was start a competition for new names and recently the two names chosen were announced.

new names s classThe ms Amsterdam sailed under its own name on time from Seattle, ready for the next round of Alaska, with a full house of excited guests. The weather for tomorrow gives for little change, so we have to see how it will develop in the coming days. I need wind still weather in Juneau, as my classes have to mess around with lifeboats again.

5 Comments

  1. Trudy van tuyll

    July 24, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Did tou finish your book about the Statendam as you told us you would do during your winter holidays in october 2013
    If so we are looking forward for it

    • Good morning,
      Unfortunately no, things went on the back burner a little bit. Due to the current twist in my work,I had to
      let the Statendam plan rest a little bit. The idea was that I would be able to sell the book on board, to recoup
      the investment and at the moment as travelling captain I will not be back on the Statendam for a while.
      Plus the Statendam is going over to another company, which means a potential market will disappear.
      unless…………………. new name for the new ship ??????????

      Then we will see again,

      thank you for reading my blog

      Capt. Albert

  2. Captain,

    I always enjoy your blogs. Currently catching up in the Explorations Cafe on board the Maasdam in the St. Lawrence River (a ship I first sailed on, with you in command, 10 years ago). I too am sorry to see these ships go. This class (S-class) of ships are real gems. Well built, excellent workmanship and well cared for by the crews. Between Maasdam and Veendam, I have spent 6 weeks of my life aboard one or the other! I sail HAL because I don’t need rock climbing walls and ice-skating rinks and lawns. I just want a ship that looks and feels like a ship, is not the size (population-wise) of a small city, is comfortable and where I will be well taken care of by a doting crew. What more could anyone want?

    Kevin

  3. Captain,

    Thank you for your note on Statendam and Ryndam ! That brought to mind the Prinsendam, which I thought was a bit older, i.e. 1988. Or does the age refer to a ship’s start/length of service at a particular company ? With Prinsendam being considerably smaller, at a time when new-builts are getting larger and larger, I fear that for this little gem the hand-writing is on the wall . She has a long list of devoted return-guests, who don’t mind the technical hick-ups she has, (usually at inconvenient times, re. the boiler in the Antarctic), and the endearing little “peculiarities”. If 15 units is the “goal”, 2 aging ships leaving, 1 new-built coming in, possibly 2, then it looks like Prinsendam might eventually join her 2 sisters in the developing market down under. I hope that HAL will never give up having a ship, small enough to sail interesting, longer itineraries.

    A.E.

  4. Missed Career at Sea

    July 29, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, Captain. I simply wanted to jump to the opportunity to bewail the loss of the Statendam, in my case. You might remember that my choice of sailing date gave me the chance to sail under the command of an outgoing Captain Consen, as well as sailing under your command (finally). The back-to-back sail was an unusual experience in more than one way. E.g., “being put on the spot by Captain Consen”. Memories that are very special and are going into a void with the ship’s “disappearance”.
    On shore I get some feedback from those working on ships in Officer’s or Petty Officer’s capacities. Apparently, the Statendam is also going because she is “sellable” …

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