- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

22 June, at Sea.

From Dover to Copenhagen it is almost 700 miles as we have to take the long route. There is short cut through the Kieler Kanal, (see also one of my other pages, A Gentlemen’s cruise to the openeing of the Kieler Kanal) but there is a bridge over this canal and the Veendam is too high for it. There are plans to raise this bridge, so maybe in a few years from now, we can go through it as well. Which would be nice as it is a very scenic sailing. Most of guests are packing,as they will be leaving tomorrow at the end of the cruise. 188 are staying on they have booked a back-to-back cruise and they will leave 10 days later.

My final day was filled with clearing away the paperwork and writing my end of term report and hand-over. The ship is sailing off the coast of Denmark and in this area there is not much traffic so I do not have to be on the bridge. I just walk in and out occasionally, to keep an eye on things. I will be on the bridge for most of the night during our approach to Copenhagen. Denmark is made up of a peninsula that is stuck to the top of Germany. Most of it is called Jutland and there are a number of islands as well. Copenhagen is located on the East side of this Peninsula and thus we sail around the top and then come down on the east side. That east side is called the Sont. It is a very shallow area and most of the time there is considerable traffic. Thus I will be present on the bridge.

Tomorrow I will go on vacation for three months until 9 September. Since two years the company has a policy that each ship has two captains who alternate. It is better for the continuity on board. The crew only has to deal with two different sorts of management instead of somebody totally different every few months. Because we alternate, we are doing three months on, three months off. This is really a necessity because of the long working days. You can not do four months of Alaska or four months of Europe if you have days between 10 to 14 hours each day. Holland America asks a lot of its captains and that makes for long days. Thus 3 on 3 off, to keep us smiling and to keep us sane.

A few people have asked me, how long does it take me to write my daily blog and do I have time for it. It takes me about 20 minutes to write one A4 page. Then I have my breakfast. When finished, I check for spelling mistakes and then it takes 5 minutes to upload. So about 30 minutes in total, in the period after docking the ship and before my ships round starts.

This will be my last blog for awhile. But check again between 14th of and the 21st of August. Then I will be sailing with my wife on her ship. Normally my wife sails with me, but in the summer time when I do boring things, such as 12 Alaska cruises in a row, she sails on the Ocean Majesty. She started doing that a few years ago and although the past period with the Veendam was not exactly boring, she promised her boss to be there, and thus she left the ship in Venice to join the Ocean Majesty.

The Ocean Majesty is a small Greek ship and is chartered by an English company called Page and Moy. They cater for the retired middle class of England with cruises in the Med, the Baltic and they go up to Greenland and Iceland as well. Lesley works on board this year as the Future Cruise Consultant. She advises guests about the cruises of the Ocean Majesty for the next year. They have a spouse policy, so there I go.

I love being a captain on the bridge, but being a captain sitting in the bar, has definitely its appeal as well. Also it gives me the chance to do each and every tour they offer and see a bit of the ports and the countries that I normally visit with the ship but never get to enjoy.

So I will report my captains observations from the bar about what there is to be seen in Iceland and Greenland and what the special cocktail of the day is.

Also I will try to add a few more articles Of days gone by to the website. Ralph Grizzle the editor of The Avid Cruiser, places them on the last page end of each quarterly issue but that is the short version. The long version is posted on my blog. I have close to 1500 books in my library about ocean liners and cruises. Among them there are a quite a few obscure travel books, reports and other published items from the early days of sea travel, that merit some attention.

Thank you for reading my blog everyday. I will be back on the Veendam on September 9, sailing from New York to the Canadian Maritimes. Please join me then.

10 Comments

  1. Have a great holiday. Will look for your blog when you return.

    Rich

  2. Captain,

    A friend, John Prins, recently told me of your blog (AKA Copper10-8 on the Cruise Critic Message Board). I have followed your recent blogs with interest as my wife and I will be on the msVeendam next May 9th on her Alaska roundtrip cruise from Vancouver.

    Another friend, Mr. James Deering, Hotel Manager of the msOosterdam, recommended your ship for our Alaska cruise as we wanted to cruise out of Vancouver.

    I hope that you will be the Captain at that time so that we may have the pleasure of meeting you in person.

    Enjoy your well-deserved vacation!

    Terry & Barb Green
    Marysville, Washington

  3. Kapitein Schoonderbeek, thanks much for giving all of us not on Veendam the opportunity to sail along with you! Really enjoying the “behind the scenes” look of a modern cruise ship. Enjoy your vacation and have a great time! Looking forward to picking up again in September! Het beste en tot ziens!

  4. HELLO CAPTAIN ALBERT,
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR VERY INTERESTING POST’S, I READ THEM EVERY DAY AND ENJOY THEM VERY MUCH.
    ALSO I AM GLAD YOU WILL BE BACK ON THE VEENDAM (OUR THIRD CRUISE ON HER) IN NOVEMBER FOR THE 14 DAY CARIBBEAN CRUISE.
    IT FEELS LIKE I KNOW YOU ALREADY AND I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO SAYING HELLO TO YOU IN PERSON.

  5. Michael FitzGerald

    June 23, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Captain: Thank you very much for doing this blog. We just did the Western Mediterranean on the Westerdam and I especially enjoyed reading about some of those same ports from the perspective of a ship’s captain. It’s great reading. We are booked for next April on the Veendam’s Tampa to San Diego Panama Canal cruise and, if I have calculated correctly, it appears that you will be on duty during that time. Again, thank you.

  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to take all of us along with you. I look forward to your observations from the Ocean Majesty and to your return to the Veendam. Until then, relax and have an excellent, well-deserved holiday!

  7. Captain Albert –

    I just found your blog this morning, about two weeks too late. My parents and sister were embarked on the Veendam Venice to Copenhagen and this would have been a great way to keep up with the journey. In addition to an occasional e-mail from them, I did find webcams in various ports and some ship cams in the same ports to watch the Veendam arrive.

    Best was Le Havre which refreshes the image every two seconds. I e-mailed my family to have them stand on the balcony of their port side stateroom. I clearly saw them at 5:15 AM their time and “snapped” some screen shots.

    One question for you … is HAL considering adding bridge cams like Costa, Princess, some Carnival, and other ships?

    Enjoy your holiday.

  8. Have so enjoyed reading your blog, Captain

    Schoonderbeek. Have a wonderful restful vacation! With

    two trips under-our- belt on the Veendam (one in Alaska

    and the other this past May19-29 Italian Enchantment

    Cruise, we definately love her and hope to sail with you as

    our Captain again sometime in the near future!

  9. Dear Captain Albert,

    It has been a great pleasure to read your blog over the past several months. You have provided us with an excellent account of each port of call and all the majestic beauty that these ports have to offer. Being an Engineer I really enjoy reading about the inner workings of the ship and your adventures of navigating each port.

    I wish you smooth sailing on your vacation, and look forward to your return.

    Matthew

  10. Ik doe de Baltische zee-cruise (2 tot 12/8/07) – Jammer dat u niet aan boord bent – maar uw blog heeft me al veel informatie geleverd; leuk om te lezen

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