- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

23 March 2020; At Sea off the Mexican Coast …… Day 8 without guests.

I have mentioned it before in my blog, it seems that the company every time does something as soon as I have uploaded my blog for the day. Yesterday was no different. Barely was the world appraised of the fact that we were still happily alongside in Puerto Vallarta for the for-seeable future and we were gone. The Captain received notice that help was needed for one of our ships, medical help, and thus Rotterdam, Oosterdam and Eurodam went to battle stations. Medical crew and supplies were to be gathered and then the Rotterdam being the fastest ship in the fleet was assigned to carry out this humanitarian mission.

This sounds simpler than it is. Before you can race away from a port and do something with a ship for what the crew is not signed on to do, The Captain has to hold an official Ship’s Council. Thus the Officers and Crew of the ms Rotterdam were gathered in the World Stage and the captain briefly explained, what was asked of us. His question: Are you with me in this? …..was answered with a re-sounding yes and then the Rotterdam raced out of port.

The ms Rotterdam (VI) sailing from Rotterdam on a rainy afternoon. The ms Rotterdam  has two funnels and that was done as a tribute to the ss Rotterdam V which had meant so much for the company between 1958 and 1997.  As both the ms Rotterdam and the ms Amsterdam were meant for longer cruises also the ms Amsterdam received the double funnel.

For those of you who are tracking the fleet on the Internet will have seen that the Oosterdam had raised anchor at Cabo San Lucas and sailed towards the ms Eurodam which was coming down the coast on its way to Puerto Vallarta. Oosterdam transferred medical staff and supporting supplies to the Eurodam. That ship then sailed onwards to meet with the ms Rotterdam. We did so in the early morning hours and all what was transferred from the Oosterdam, together with a medical team of the Eurodam, joined us then.  Then we were on our way and eventually we will meet up with the Zaandam somewhere, wherever the two ships which are both running at full speed, can meet. We are going south, the Zaandam is coming north.

While the Medical Authorities are evaluating the situation , the company is treating it with the utmost urgency.  The directly available resources of the company are being forwarded now, while it is being determined whatever it is that the ship is dealing with at the moment.

I have listed the official company Press Release as published yesterday on the Hal Blog, at the end of today’s story.

The ms Zaandam  on a sunny day leaving Vancouver. Found somewhere on the internet and credit to Mr. Marc Piche as he takes very beautiful photos from Lions Gate Bridge/Stanley Park. Although the ms Zaandam has a different funnel it is a near sister to the ms Rotterdam. Zaandam and Volendam were meant to sail on the shorter cruises and have a lesser engine capacity than the Rotterdam and where given one funnel.

A few days ago I described the thank you by the crew to all the Health Workers in the world, it has now been posted by the company on their –open- Facebook page so it can be seen by all:  https://www.facebook.com/HALCruises/videos/1116464498692294/

Please give it a “like” as the crew is very focused and proud on doing what it can do to help.

Company Publication:……………………………………………

March 22, 2 p.m PT/5 p.m ET): This morning aboard Zaandam, 13 guests and 29 crew reported to the ship’s medical center with influenza-like symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution, we have now asked all guests to remain in their staterooms until we have more information. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board.

Zaandam is following the response protocols that have been developed in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time.

The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is one of our highest priorities. The ship has activated these precautionary measures out of an abundance of caution:

  • As is our standard practice, all ill persons have been isolated and their close contacts placed in quarantine.
  • Guests have been asked to remain in their staterooms and monitor their health. If they become symptomatic, they are asked to call the medical center for an evaluation and care from the ship’s medical professionals (at no charge).
  • Effective today, meal service will be provided by room service until further notice. All public areas are closed.
  • The entire ship is operating at maximum sanitation levels, including rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of public and crew areas.
  • Crew who are not required for the safe operation of the ship are being quarantined. Those that are needed to maintain the ship’s operation are being asked to self-isolate when not performing essential functions, practice social distancing, self-monitor and report any illness to the Medical Center.
  • Both internet and guest stateroom telephone services remain complimentary so that guests may stay in touch with their families.

Zaandam was sailing a South America voyage that departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. However, due to global health concerns, Holland America Line made the decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days and end its current cruises in progress as quickly as possible and return guests home. Despite previous confirmations that guests could disembark in Punta Arenas, Chile, for flights, we were not permitted to do so. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas.

Zaandam then sailed to Valparaiso, Chile, where it remained at anchor March 20-21 while taking on provisions and fuel, including regular medications for those that needed them. Zaandam departed Valparaiso on March 21 and is currently sailing north. Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however we are still working on securing a reservation to transit the Panama Canal. Alternative options are also being developed.



  1. Stay Safe, really appreciate your Blog, and the insight you give to all your followers. Carol, FL

  2. Timothy Bowman

    March 24, 2020 at 5:14 am

    Glad to hear of the Rotterdam, Oosterdam, & Eurodam crews stepping up to assist the Zaandam. We’ve sailed on all of the ships except the Rotterdam and this action reinforces our choice to sail on HAL ships. Now to figure out when and how we can sail on the Rotterdam.

  3. This is the moment when the ms Rotterdam’s (previously known as Fastdam) engines and crew will shine. The others might be bigger or newer, but this flagship still is the fastest. Her extra speed was very helpful in previous medical emergencies, but probably never seriously anticipated to be on this scale.
    Who knew at the start of this COVID-19 saga that the Zaandam would eventually be lucky to have her half-sister ship be on the west side of the Panama Canal?
    I took a look at the cruise ship tracker you mentioned a few days ago, and the Rotterdam (22kt) and Zaandam (21kt) were the fastest moving cruise ships in the world. Even the QM2 is only going 19kt. I also noticed the Koningsdam taking the long way to California (i.e., going around instead of the P.C.), and am guessing it is less expensive to cruise at 10kts than to transit the P.C.. Maasdam seems eager to arrive in San Diego before they change their minds.
    Thank you for letting us be a “fly on the wall” during this time. Best wishes for smooth and fast sailing!

    • Koningsdam is not allowed to transit the Panama Canal as her lifeboats obscure a view of her sides from the bridge wings. Even with cameras installed this is an issue. This is also true of the Nieuw Statendam.

      Koningsdam will likely stay in the Pacific after this trip around the Cape,

    • Cathie Davison

      March 25, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      The Koningsdam cannot go through the Panama Canal as the lifeboats stick out too far.

    • We’re on the Zaandam and find it so interesting that not just the Rotterdam but the other two ships have come to our aid. Thank you for all you are doing. Its not very pleasant to be confined to our cabin but it’s great that so mu h is being done to help. The big worry is how we get home from wherever we debark.

  4. The best crews in the world are HAL crews. Be strong and carry on.
    You are a fine ship with a fine crew.

  5. The best crews in the world are HAL crews.
    Be strong and carry on.

  6. Thank you for keeping us informed. While the Zaandam was embarking her passengers in Buenos Aires, we boarded the Hanseatic Inspiration at the same time and terminal. Who would have thought things would go bad so fast in South America. We were lucky that Rio de Janeiro let us all off for flights home.

  7. Roger D Tollerud

    March 24, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Captain A,
    Trying times and a superb response from HAL and her crews.
    Best regards,
    Roger T

  8. Peter-Bas Maaskant

    March 24, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    May God bless you all and keep you safe.
    Rotterdam is proud of all of you.

  9. Bruce Ericksen

    March 24, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    Captain, Thank you for sharing this unfolding story. I have had the pleasure of sailing with you in the past and appreciate all that you have taught me in your lectures and this blog. Your company should be proud of it’s efforts.

  10. I get my coffee first thing in the morning and read your blog. It has been such a connection to cruising. Thank you. I am scheduled to sail on Rotterdam in October. Please tell me that that will happen. What a time that we are living in. Thank you Captain for your insight and writing ability. You are special.

  11. Praying for each of you as you reach out to help another HAL ship. These are crazy times that call for unusual measures. You will tell us this story again some day in the future. God speed.

  12. Thank you, I have been following the HAL postings and the location of all the HAL ships which is certainly interesting.
    Well done, take care, and keep safe to all!

  13. Susan & Bennett Gottlieb

    March 25, 2020 at 12:32 am

    So impressed with HAL and Carnival Corp. Thank You for all the details. Stay safe Dear Capt. Albert.

  14. Virginia Husen

    March 25, 2020 at 1:39 am

    So proud of HAL and their humanitarian services. I, too, have been on all the ships involved in this medical situation.
    God bless all the crew and guests involved. You are in my thoughts and prayers 🙏

  15. Jan Willem Goudriaan

    March 25, 2020 at 5:27 am


  16. Jaap Lievisse Adriaanse

    March 25, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Having been on the Rotterdam 9 times , hopefully in june #10, it feels like “my ship” , living in the Rotterdam area contributes as well , you guys doing this makes me proud !
    We were on the Zaandam april 2019 when she set a speed records of 24,6 knots sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. She was greatly aided by very favorable currents ! Nonetheless the Captain mentioned this fact in his daily noontime talk.
    Hope it al works out and you can prevent worse on the Zaandam . Behouden vaart !

  17. werner verbrugge

    March 25, 2020 at 9:22 am

    “AreYou with me in this ?…”
    Now, men aboard the ship that applauded the countless efforts by all people that take care in one way or another, stand by their captain, and captains, officers and crew from other ships in the Holland America Line fleet to race to assist Zaandam.
    I strongly belief all the regular guests of Holland America Line now would agree to stand-up and send a loud applause in honor of the humanitarian operation !
    With full appreciation, Werner

  18. Chel Galang Yabut

    March 25, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Stay safe everyone. Our orayera go out to everyone on board Zaandam and also for everyone on board Rotterdam. May God’s Holy Spirit, together with his Archangels guide and guard you both on yoir way to meet each other at sea until you are both safely docked in Florida. We ask this in the Mighty Name of Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, our Help of Christians, Amen and Amen.


  19. Robina Herrington

    March 26, 2020 at 5:13 am

    I have not received a Blog since this one?
    Have there been any please, I miss them
    From Robina

  20. Following along this week with great interest and many prayers for all aboard the Zaandam and Rotterdam.
    DH and I disembarked the Eurodam in San Diego on March 18 and are proud of that ship’s involvement to help the Zaandam.
    Our best wishes to all involved.

  21. We pray for all crew onboard our ships. Particularly on zaandam and rotterdam, as we have close friends and family onboard. A humanitarian effort from the captain. God is with you, amen.

  22. Getting concerned, I know the ship is at sea . But Capt. Albert must be keeping the crew busy with his “Created Disasters”. Is every thing OK??

    • It would appear not. Everything is not okay. Check your news feed or Google Zaandam medical issues (or some such words)…

  23. Thinking of you and praying for a positive resolution of the current situation.
    Hopefully you are safe and well wherever you are.

    • Check Holland America Line Blog, search under ship- Zaandam and you will see an update on the situation , they are being very upfront. Prays for everyone.

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