- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

22 November 2007, Santo Tomas de Castilla

Santo Tomas is the largest Guatemalan port on the Atlantic coast with a dock that can take four regular size ships and nearby is Puerto Barrios that can take four banana boats. Normally there are one or two ships at anchor. These are the ones that have been chased out of the port, or held from going in, when there is a cruise ship coming in.

This morning it was absolute mayhem for Santo Tomas standards. Four ships at anchor, one going in, Veendam at the pilot station and another ship approaching. Port Control blocked the air waves with constant announcements about which ship was where and what it should do. A curious mix of Greek, Croatian, Philipinno and Chinese accents filled the air. All of them trying to make sense of what their orders were and all upset that they were not going in first. If you realize that each hemisphere of the world and each race has different perceptions of what “at once” is or what “shortly” means or what “tomorrow” for a time span is, you understand that communications in the nautical world are not always easy. Port Control was audibly stressed.

We sailed in early, to facilitate the flight tour to Copan and Tikal and where docked by 05.30 am. We are expecting technicians to help us with the issue that caused the cancellation of the call at Key West although lately we have been making good speed and so we arrived at Santo Tomas on time.

Today we offloaded 5 boxes with clothing, shoes and other items donated by the ships crew for the school that we sponsor in Livingston near Santo Tomas. We also brought to them boxes with school supplies which we buy wholesale through the company and pay for out of the crew fund. Last cruise I had the route map of our 14 day cruise auctioned off and that money was used for the supplies. Also, as a final, we landed another 150 matrasses, half for the Red Cross and half for the local orphanage. Again with the Guatemalan Navy providing the transport free of charge.


Photos: courtesy of Veendam Chief House Keeper Nelly Reyes.

We had a day with very good weather. Although down pours had been expected, the rain remained over the mountains and the sun shone all day. As noted before, we have a lot of kids on board and they run into everything. All scratches and bumps. Things that mom takes care of at home by herself, but on board necessitates a visit to the ships hospital. Most people do not carry a complete medicine cabinet when traveling of course. One youngster even broke his leg when playing in a pool at a resort in Santo Tomas and will have to finish the cruise on crutches. So the Infirmary and the Security officer were being kept busy.

Then the ship was delayed in sailing, as our technicians arrived late. For some unknown reason the charter plane that was bringing them to Santo Tomas was not allow to fly there and they had to complete the journey by Taxi. Thus we left 90 minutes late. We still got our rousing sent off by the local taxi drivers and dance groups but I had my mind already on the coming night, as it was going to be difficult to make up that lost time.

Tomorrow we are in Cozumel and I am aiming for a noon time arrival. The ship is scheduled to dock on the same pier as last time, so we will be looking at the Navigator of the Seas again the whole afternoon.


  1. Captain: Would you share with us any comments about the M/S Explorer accident and eventual sinking off the coast of Antarctica?
    This ship was built to sail in these kinds of waters, yet she did sink after striking an iceberg. What abou ‘water tight’ compartments? Could the ship not be saved using these devices? Lot’s of questions but would love to here your comments about this unfortunate accident.

  2. Hallo Capt. Albert,

    Wat leuk om via internet getuige te zijn van uw belevenissen.
    Heb fijne herinneringen aan onze lifeboatrace in Sydney 2000 met de NA.
    Werk nu als registerloods in Rotterdam, wens uw goede vaart en misschien tot horens.
    Met vriendelijke groet,
    Marcel Laagland

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