- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

25 January 2010, At Sea, sailing South.

The mileage to make between Manta and Callao is one of those distances that do not work in 24 hour sailing periods. It is too long to do it in one proper 24 hour section and too short to race full speed and arrive at a decent time. Hence we have two leisurely days at sea while we follow the coast of Peru on the way down to Lima. With a Grand Voyage cruise it is not only about visiting ports but also about the life on board with its parties, good food and entertainment. The latter is not always about just sitting back and watching somebody sing or dance or joke but also about learning something about where the ship is, about were we are going and about things of general interest pertaining to the area.

For that purpose Holland America has an “Enrichment Lecture” program that works fleet wide but on the longer cruises it really forms a very important part of the cruise. The guests are not only there to enjoy themselves but they are also interested in the background of what is going on around them. This cruise we have a great variation in Enrichment programs going and planned:

Thusfar we had already:
South American Asian Ancestors
Travel Photography Tips for Grand Voyagers (multiple lectures)
Columbus first visit to the new world
Latin American fabrics
The Panama Canal
etc etc.

And so it will go on during this cruise. Lectures in relation to where we are going but no doubt there will be generic ones as well. I can not give any titles for the future days, as most lecturers are joining the ship enroute and until they are onboard, we do not know if a certain lecture will take place. I hope to do my little bit during this cruise as well, certainly with my Holland America History lecture later in the cruise but if time allows I have a few more up my sleeve.

In the meantime my focus is on the coming ports and ensuring that all the paperwork is being done properly to keep the local authorities happy and to figure out the best way to dock and how to dock. As we are not doing the seven day bus run, there is no routine where everybody knows how it goes because it went the same way last week. We really have to be with the planning about two ports ahead of the game. Relying on the information of past calls (the Prinsendam has nearly been to every port in the world sometime in the past) does not always work as most ports are being upgraded and routines are changing all the time. What is a nice help for looking at the docks, is Google maps. With one click of the computer I can see if the port is still the same as it was last time and the same as in the chart. For Callao this was already valuable. The information we have on the ships, is mostly accumulated wisdom from Hydrographic Institutions (charts and sailing directions) and ships captains who forward reports. That information is as good as the persons who forward it. But it takes time to update charts and books so the port layout information is not always accurate. Hence Google. I knew already that Callao port was going through a major upgrade. The old wharves are changed into container terminals and a long pier was going to be removed. Via Google I could now verify that this pier is already gone and that is important to know as it gives me an extra alternative option for the docking maneuver.

We will be loading provisions in Callao and the provision master has already requested a portside docking as that will work better with his loading activities. So if the locals are not against it, portside alongside it will be.

Tomorrow will be a second sea day, with the same weather as today. Partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid seventies.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Captain Albert,
    Your blog is getting really interesting now as we visited most of the ports with Captain PJ and the Veendam in November 2009. Your description of Manta helped us understand the purpose of the different tuna fishing boats.
    At Callao we were port side to the pier, squeezed in tightly behind a Chinese cargo ship and with our aft end at a 45 degree angle to a ship at another pier. It seemed extremely tight coming in and getting out. There seemed to be lots of room to swing around but from the way Captain PJ took us away from the pier it must be really shallow.
    I thought Callao was a really interesting busy port.
    Looking forward to your description,

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