Another gloomy, cold and watery day. Luckily everything that is coming on board is in boxes or protected in another way, otherwise we would have a lot of wet stores and supplies in the ship. Our crew count now stands 1010 and the Human Resources Manager is expecting 9 more. No doubt he will find some more to expect tomorrow as they keep coming. And those 1010 do not include the supplemental staff and thus I gather we have well over 1200 people on board who report to Holland America and not to the shipyard.
Apart from the safety training, the ships entertainers have arrived and the World Stage is now every evening in use for rehearsals and sound checks. As the equipment is still being fine-tuned, I hear on occasion somebody going through the sound barrier, although not intended. The dual pianos in the Bill Board on Board are already in place and I expect that it won’t be long before the music equipment will appear in the Rock Lounge and the BB King Jazz Club. As far as I understand, all the groups who will occupy these venues have been rehearsing before they came to the ship so the only thing they need is to have things setup and to be ready to go.
Housekeeping is also progressing and we are coming closer and closer to the “Perfect Cabin Set-Up”. This is the Holland America Line standard of how every cabin should look like and be maintained. And it should never vary unless they run out of supplies. So we are inching closer and today I had turn down service for the first time, including an animal on the bed, which looked like a Dover Sole. The Housekeeping Crew is still in coveralls but tomorrow we are all moving to regular uniforms as the ship is now clean enough to do so. I am now also the proud owner of two Beach Towels which are of course extremely useful for the current Venetian weather. What is still missing is a paper trash basket and as I am working in the cabin in between drills, it is something I really miss. But there is one in the bathroom and no doubt the Perfect Cabin Set-Up” will be achieved way before we sail from the yard.
The yard is clearing away at full speed, deck and bulkhead coverings, railing and stair protectors and once gone they are followed by a team of HAL crew cleaning things up so we go from “dust free delivery” to Holland America “Spotlessly clean”. The latter will take some time to achieve. My cabin steward is waging a battle against iron fillings in the carpet. With all the fussing over my balcony window and earlier adjustments during the initial installation, aluminum fillings have been walked into the carpet and every time the carpet is vacuumed more comes out. It will take at least another few days before he has it all out.
While the finish touches are going on at full speed, the planning for the ship is already way past delivery date. The routes from Marghera to Venice and from Venice to Civitavecchia have been programmed into the Radars and all the Port Authorities have received the necessary paperwork so that they can issue the appropriate permits to allow the ship to sail into port.
This is not as easy as it used to be. For those who follow the cruise news, there are quite a few ports that are trying to reduce the number and size of cruise ships coming in Venice. Dubrovnik and Barcelona have been added lately on the European side and there have also been some rumblings in the Caribbean. We are going to visit Venice and there the sizes of the vessels are a concern because they have to sail through Venice itself to get to the cruise terminal. There is talk of widening a channel on the west side but this has not happened yet. So the Harbor Master of Venice needs to know exactly the dimensions of each cruise ship; A. To determine the volume of the ship and to see if it is allowed in and B. How many tugboats will be required to protect Venice if something would go wrong. B.Is not so difficult to figure out but …….. A is, as there are quite a few ways to calculate the volume of a ship. Although Cruise ships are coming closer and closer to being boxes they still have angles and the decks are recessed and that can make it a bit complicated. But we have all the permits and in 8 days, we will sail into Venice.
Weather for tomorrow, overcast, chilly with a chance of showers in the afternoon.