- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

24 March 2010; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, end of a 70 day journey.

With three knots of current in the stern we were pushed up the Florida Strait towards the pilot station. With two cargo ships in the same approach, we lined up for the pilot who hopped on the ship at exactly 0600 hrs as planned. Fort Lauderdale has been a Holland America home port for a long long time and as a result we know all the senior pilots very well. Some of them since 10 or 15 years and even longer. That makes dealing with them very easy, they do the thing that they have to do and we do the thing that we have to do. The pilot brings the ship to the dock and the captain brings the ship alongside. So in good cooperation the Prinsendam was docked alongside by 0700 hrs. with the gangway in. Normally we say gangway out but here a shore gangway comes into the ship. In the same way as when an airplane arrives at the airport. This jet walk leads into the upper level of the terminal. Holland America’s standard terminal is pier 26, unless there are more ships in port, then we might get moved to somewhere else depending on the size of the other ships. Having a standard terminal makes life a lot easier as all the people involved, sea and shore side get used to the lay out and that makes things go much faster. Efficiency is important especially when there are more ships in port. Last Saturday there were 9 cruise ships in and they caused a total of 53,000 people movements. 26,000 coming off the ship and the same number going on. According to the pilot, the Oasis of the Seas was sailing with her first full house and that was over 6,200 guests for one ship alone.

We were the only cruise ship in port today and that made things a lot less hectic in the port and hopefully as well at the airport. By 0705 we started the off loading of the luggage and we had about double the amount that had come onboard when the cruise started. Apart from guest purchases during the cruise there were also the amenities to take home that HAL gives all the guests during a Grand Voyage. Luckily one of those gifts is a luggage bag on wheels and that came in very handy for most guests. So we saw over 400 brown bags, with the Grand Voyage logo on it, coming off the escalator and I sincerely hope that they all had been properly labeled as they all looked the same. Brown and stuffed to maximum capacity.

The guests left the ship over the jet walk gangway and I took the opportunity to be there together with Thom the cruise director to say goodbye to everybody. If you sail together for 70 days, you do know everybody at least by face, often by name and you will have spoken to most guests at least once or twice. Thus it was nice to say goodbye and to know that most guests will return to the Prinsendam sometime in the near future. A lot of them have booked the Mediterranean and Black Sea voyage for next year March as the alternative to this years Antarctica experience. Over 20 stayed on for the coming cruise and by the time they are finished they will have travelled over 130 days with the ship.

I am also saying goodbye. I will be leaving the Prinsendam on the 27 March 2010 in Gustavia. Normally the change over date would have been today but we have the Senior Management Conference going on and for the staff officers that are vital for the ships operation it means that it has to be done in two groups. So my relief Capt. Halle Gundersen is attending the first meeting and will then fly to Gustavia to relieve me and to continue the cruise. I will then fly to San Diego for my conference attendance and then go home for my leave. If all goes well, I will be back on the Prinsendam on June 7th. for sightseeing in Europe.

I would like to say thank you to all my readers, some of who have followed my trials and tribulations from day one, now over 600 blogs ago, and I hope you found it interesting. I find it fun to do and this cruise I spent some more time on the daily blog than the normal 30 minutes during breakfast. However this was a Grand Voyage and that warrants some extra time and effort.

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28 Comments

  1. Captain, thank you so much for your infomative and entertaining posts. It has been a wonderful experience and I have also learnt a lot both about far away places and the ships operation. I am now just longing to be back aboard a HAL vessel!! One day!

  2. SourdoughSteve

    March 25, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Captain Albert,
    We thank you beyond measure! Your daily “adventures” are the highlight of my day, and I’m sure others feel the same way. I read your blog each day at lunchtime and I’m transported to a wonderful experience every time.

    The Prinsendam is in good hands with Captain Gundersen, as I’m sure you know. He sailed us safely up and down the Amazon in December, and as you have told us, that’s no easy task.

    Have a wonderful break and I look forward to more adventures later in the year…

    Steve Chisholm

  3. Thank you so very much Captain Albert for this past 70 day voyage on my computer. I waited each day for your blog and loved seeing all your pictures. I lso followed the blog of one of the passengers (a man from England & Naples Fla). The two blogs combined did a very good job of knowing what happened on your wonderful trip. I have two friends who will be with you on the 14 day Christmas/New Year cruise and they are really looking forward to it. Have an enjoyable holiday at home with your wife.

    Many Thanks, Nora Sarsons (in Vancouver)

  4. Captain Albert,

    Thanx for all the insights, really enjoyed your blog. Have a relaxing holiday.

    Jim Burke

  5. It’s been a joy to receive your email blog each evening here in the UK. Hearing about your adventures and reading the various technical details you always include has been both interesting and educational. It was almost like being on the cruise with you! The incluseion of more photographs also added to the content.
    We missed out on our Prinsendam Black Sea cruise last October when my wife broke her femur in Civitavechia the night before embarkation so we hope to join you sometime in the future.
    In the meantime have a great vacation and thank you again.

  6. Captain, I look forward to your blog everyday !! I again want to “Thank You” for taking us along on your ventures, I now have my grandkids reading your blog, and following your journey on goggle earth. The Antartic & the Amason were great learning tools for them.
    We hope you have a great Holiday ! You will be missed ! See you when you come back…..

  7. Captain,

    As always, thank you for a wonderfully interesting and enjoyable weblog, andI love the gentle Dutch humour.

    I’m *really* looking forward to your next tour of duty. By the way, Prinsendam is a very pretty ship and I’m hoping that one day I’ll be aboard…

    Cheers!
    Mik

  8. Thank you for the pictures, and all the wonderful commentary you add to your daily blog. After following your Grand South American Voyage this year we are going to be booking it for 2012! I can hardly wait. Thank you so much and have a wonderful break!

  9. Thanks so much for your perfect explanations of so many fascinating adventures. Enjoy your vacation. We hope to sail with you soon.

  10. I have vicariously cruised with you since I watched you go thru the MiraFlores Locks on January 21, 2010. I watched by web cam from my home in Northwest Florida, it was exciting. Also enjoyed the logs about Anarctica and the other stops along the trip. I especially liked your brief explanation of our football game at the Super Bowl. I had relatives on this 70 day trip and now on March 24th it’s over. It has been fun!!
    Thanks,
    Ann Forrester

  11. You have whetted my appetite for the round-sSuth America cruise! We look forward to joining you in Athens in November for the westbound transatlantic voyage.

  12. Henry Schweitz

    March 26, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Hello captain Albert,
    Thank you for a wonderful cruise around South America and into Antarctica. I enjoyed your blog every day and hope that you continue your blog after your well deserved vacation. I also welcome captain Halle Gundersen back on his ship. You and captain Gundersen are the real Prinsendam captains. I wish you and your wife (I enjoyed the photo’s she took during the first part of the cruise) a nice and relaxing vacation.

    Henry Schweitz

  13. Captain Albert,
    Your blog is also a highlight of my day, thank you! Have a safe trip home and enjoy your vacation, and I look forward to your next voyage.
    Ramming Speed!!!
    Mark…

  14. Captain Albert
    Once again thank you for your daily commentary covering so many facts and details of the cruise and life on the ship and for making it such and interesting read.

    I hope you have an enjoyable period of leave and look forward to reading about your travels when you return later in the year.

    I recall writing when you first announced you were transferring to the Princendam saying it might be the smallest ship in the Dam fleet but my view was it had the biggest heart and a wonderful ship to travel on. I am sure you now agree.
    Paul

  15. Capital Cruiser

    March 26, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you, Captain Albert, for another wonderful vicarious cruise. I had the pleasure of sailing with you on the Veendam in 2007 and have have followed all of your blogs since then. You have a wonderful sense of humour and provide great insights into the behind-the-scenes activities that cruise guests never get to see. I am in awe of all of the things a cruise ship captain has to take into consideration. Have a great vacation. I look forward to reading about your next adventure.

  16. We have enjoyed every word you have written. One day I hope we will be lucky enough to sail with you and experience these wonderful days ourselves. We will sail on with you to Gustavia now, and, I am sure, enjoy every mile and every post you have time to make. Thank you very much.

  17. On this last cruise we talked briefly about the subject of possibly taking Prinsendam on a World Cruise in a few years. Is there a chance to raise this subject while you are at this conference (:>) . We all know she is not the most “sprightly old girl” anymore, ( neither are we, her guests !!) . Even with all her creaks and groans she is better on this kind of cruise than these towering “behemoth” mass- transporters ! —- If Prinsendam is now to old to be able to reliably run around the world, how about replacing her in a few years with another Prinsendam sized ship which is also not designed for mass-transport ?

    Wishing you and your wife a great vacation, lots of fun, good wine/beer, good friends to laugh with.
    For us, “blog-deprivation” now begins (:>) !

  18. Captain Albert:

    Thank you for your faithful daily installments providing insight into the Captains job, joys, and worries. Where I live, you blog was posted at 4:07 Pm everyday, and I can’t wait. It was wonderful, I will miss it, and look forward to June when you return. Have a great vacation/Leave.

    Ruud Hartog

  19. Thank you Captain Albert, for a wonderful ride. I had a grand time and enjoyed every word of your fascinating reports.

    Have a good time while you are away. I will be watching for your return.

    All the best,
    Don
    Chattanooga, Tennessee

  20. Jeffrey Matthew Cohen

    March 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Great sailing with you Captain, happy trails!

  21. Jacquelyn Hodge

    March 28, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Hello Captain Albert,
    I stubbled into this site while researching something else and could not stop checking in to follow your blog! This was very informative and interesting. I’m not a frequent cruiser but do enjoy getting onboard whenever economically feasible… I never paid too much attention to what the captain and/or his officers were doing (I guess as most passengers) but this blog is really enlighting as to what you guys are challenged with everyday. I have a new found respect for the Bridge and their ability and commitment to keeping all passenger safe. Thank you for opening my eyes and for writing this blog. I wish you the very best and enjoy your holiday!!!

  22. Captain, thanks for all of your interesting and informative postings. Have a great time off.

  23. Thank you, Captain Albert!

    Have just stumbled on your blog (someone posting on Cruise Critic mentioned it) a few weeks ago and have enjoyed it tremendously. We’re preparing to do HAL’s 14 day Alaska cruise this summer and have been exploring the NOAA charts for those areas. On our last cruise I took a stash with us and enjoyed following our voyage and reading the Notice to Mariners in the prologues. It added to what Captain Bos told us. But I have enjoy you blog even more- your insights are quite interesting.

    Have a great leave and I hope you will resume blogging when you return from leave. And I’m now hoping to one day do the Antartica cruise with HAL- hopefully your ship.

  24. margaret and louis cesanek

    April 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks for a wonderful trip. We are most anxious to know when and where you and the Prinsendam will sail next. We are anxious to book.
    Margie and Lou

  25. Missed Career at Sea

    April 6, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    There’s always one straggler in the crowd, Captain! Your 70-day cruise was one tough endurance race with difficult obstacles as far as I’m concerned. It’s really too bad you weren’t home before the end of the month of March. You would have been able to accept an important invitation from my friends.
    Instead, your time and effort were gobbled up by the Company while the world is showing big cracks on a global scale, in more than one way. I do hope, though, you’ve missed the effects of another earthquake while flying high above shifting tectonic plates, going home?
    Wishing you a rejuvenating and a non-hectic time off!

  26. Hi Captain Albert,

    Your blog will be long remembered! Great record of your travels…you can look back when you are 80 and recall some interesting days I’ll bet. I hope it gets typed up and put into a log and not just kept digital.

    Thanks! May

  27. What will happen to the future of this cruise now that the Maritime decision came down, that only cruise ships with less than 500 guests can sail in Antarctic waters? At issue are environmental concerns about the kind of fuel burned by larger ships etc.— If it turns out that it was indeed the last time, we are very glad to have been on it, especially this one with all its extra-adventures (:>) ! Thanks to all of you.

  28. Have a great vacation Captain Albert! Thanks for taking us along on your always very interesting as well as fascinating journeys on the seven seas! Take care and be safe! – Copper

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