- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

24 September 2013; Juneau, Alaska.

While crossing over to Alaska, the swell was sufficiently enough on the port side that it caused more rolling than pitching and that is always good as the stabilizers can deal with that. Still the ship moved quite a bit, so I was quite happy with my decision to go for the inside route. Going outside would have been quite un-pleasant for the guests. The pilot boat was already waiting for us when we approached and by midnight American time we had our Alaskan Pilots on board. 5 minutes later we were flying. The current in the Inside Passage was favorable, sometimes you just have to have a bit of luck, and that meant that I started to make up the lost time from yesterday morning.

By 04.00 we were looking at an on time arrival and by 05.00 it even looked that we would arrive early if I could maintain this speed. I knew that this was wishful thinking as we were approaching Cape Decision. Here the ocean swell was still rolling in. The swells were coming down from 6 meters (19 feet) to 3 meters (10 feet) but there are always a few odd ones in between. Either higher or lower and they would make us move considerably when making the course change from 225o to 350o, in order to move from one part of the Inside Passage to the next part.

That meant slowing down and catching the swell with a bit more decent speed and then going back to full speed as soon as the swell was on the beam again and the stabilizers could do their job. From then onwards it was less than an hour before we were completely shielded by the mountains again. Once back to full speed, I realized that things were going to work out and that we would be able to arrive on time, or almost on time. No cancelations, no unhappy guests and also no unhappy crew.

On top of that, the weather had turned gorgeous. No wind, sunny skies and no low hanging clouds as the previous winds had blown everything away and had caused the outside temperatures to go down to the low fifties. It was a beautiful autumn day in Alaska. Those who were outside were treated to breaching whales and frolicking Orcas and Mother Nature was showing off in the best way possible. After our wobbly day yesterday, this was definitely a big change for the better.

We will be one of the last ships to leave Alaska. A matter of fact we are the last ship of the season in Ketchikan and if the weather does not change we might be even able to make that call, some ships have left already and some ships have adjusted their schedules for the last weeks, in the same way as we changed from the Seward run to the 7 day circle run. As a result we are sailing the whole week with the Norwegian Pearl.

We left Vancouver together, passed each other in the Canadian Inside Passage, caught up again today in Juneau, and will be together in Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. In Juneau we all have our assigned docks and today, even with only two ships in, we remained at our own. For us because we would be crazy to move. The Alaska Steamship dock is the closest to downtown, so why should you move?? The Pearl remained at the dock furthest away from the town, where she normally is, when all berths are in use. The main reason for this is the gangway setup of the ship. Her dock has a pontoon in the middle and that avoids shifting gangways. With having to discharge over 3,000 guests directly after arrival, a simple gangway makes a big difference. Guest nbr. 3,245 also wants to go ashore as fast as guest nbr 5 and then gangway preference overtakes the desire to land your guests as close to town as possible.

Due to the favorable current and the good weather we arrived on time, and Juneau could welcome 1,325 eager tourists and shoppers, all looking for the last discounts of the season. Tomorrow we will be in Skagway and this is also promising to be a nice day. Maybe no sunshine but no rain nor much wind either.

1 Comment

  1. Hallow Captain Albert,

    I enjoyed reading your Blog about Alaska.
    I am trying to contact Captains regarding very important safety issue.
    Navigating cruise ship is not easy in the routes you go. With Icebergs in sea and navigating through
    Narrow passage, it is a lot of responsibility.
    Would a good, Sonar, that provides a sonar picture of the underwater, 360° around your vessel and on

    top of that let you see what’s ahead up to 3000 meter, be good idea?

    Will that increase the ship safety?

    I appreciate your input.


    Lee Keren

    Wesmar Marine Electronics

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