- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

25 September 2017; Seattle, USA.

We had a nice and early arrival and it gave the passenger terminal a busy time as behind us the ms Noordam slipped in as well. Our schedule was to have all the guests disembarked by 10.00 hrs. embark about 300 contractors and then sail to the other side of Elliott Bay just after 12.00 hrs. We will stay 2.5 days at Vigor Marine on Harbor Island as we need cranes to get all the containers with carpet on board and all the waste off the ship before we sail without guests to San Diego.  Sailing down the coast will take three days so the whole wet dock is just short of seven days all together.

A sort of unreal feeling pervades through the ship when it goes from the regular cycle of ending a cruise and starting a new one. Everybody is normally very busy to get all the work done between the last guest leaving and the first new guest coming and then the whole cruise cycle starts all over again. A wet or dry dock breaks that routine and although the work remains busy, for the Hotel Department the daily grind is replaced with a few new things. Although we have over 300 contractors on board Housekeeping can ease off a little bit as there is more time to do the work which is normally crammed into a very small time span.

The Bar Lounge and Deck Crew are suddenly out of work as it only takes so much time to clean the bars and pantry’s and do inventory and square everything away until the ship reaches San Diego. Their help is now needed in wet dock. Same goes for the Dining room. As everybody is eating in the Lido, a large number of Dining room stewards are out of a job as well. They all are now needed for wet dock work. I trained in the last week about 60 of the two groups in how to be fireguards; and to supervise all the welding going on for replacing fresh or potable water piping in the ship and a whole list of other steel work repairs.   Also the removal of carpet falls under their new job.

Carpet stripped and underlay and glue sanded off before New Carpet comes on.

The moment the last guest was off the ship; was the moment the first strip of carpet was ripped off the deck. We have a contractor company on board who will replace the carpet in nearly all the public area’s and also refurbish a lot of chairs and sitting areas. The ship’s crew is transporting all the lose carpet to the aft Lido Deck from where it goes into skips and is then hoisted ashore.  It is amazing to see how fast the carpet gets lifted and removed. The next challenge is then to get the underlay or padding off the steel decks. For that they use a sort of sanding machine as not all the underlay is easily scrapped off.  Everything has to be glued securely to the steel deck as with a moving ship the steel can flex and it also has to withstand the onslaught of daily vacuuming and wet shampooing on a regular basis.

The Upholsterers have setup shop in the Library and are in progress of re-upholstering all the settees in the area.

The Deck department runs the same watches as usual but now has the added challenge of the most dangerous situation a ship can be in: dry or wet dock. A lot of non-shipboard people are on board and all working hard but not all of them are necessarily working safely. Also a lot of work can be done that is hard to do when there are guests on board. One of them is the yearly life jacket check. Maybe hard to believe but life jackets travel from cabin to cabin for some unknown reason. Maybe guests are sleeping around and take their life jacket with them? I do not know but we always find life jackets from one cabin, sometimes 10 cabins or more down the hallway.

A small job but the work of experts is touching up the wear and tear to the railings of the dining room.

The by far the busiest group on board are the engineers. Wet and Dry docks are to a large extent technical happenings and apart from overseeing what the contractors are doing, there is also a lot of engine work which they want to do themselves as well; work that is difficult to carry out with paying guests on board. This time with all the pipe work going on all over the ship, it will need a lot of supervision and checking of all the work carried out to ensure that everything will work again by the time we reach San Diego.

So the big projects are this time, replacing piping in the corridors to the cabins, replacing a lot of public room carpet, refurbishing furniture, wooden deck repairs, upgrading a number of officer and crew cabins and carrying out a lot of small repairs to the guest’s cabins.

The Weather Gods are with us, it remained dry today and the weather forecast for tomorrow is similar. Not a bad way to start a wet dock.


  1. Fascinating. We were on Amsterdam the first two weeks in August. She looked fine then. I’m sure she’ll look REALLY FINE after all this work.

  2. Thank you Capt. Albert. As always, a great insight into the things that have to happen in a short time frame to keep up the ships’ appearance/condition.

    To me, one of the greatest stories you told was when master of the Prinsendam, and going up the Amazon river to a scheduled destination (can’t remember) that had no docks, not even anything suitable for the tenders. Having just completed a major cabin upgrade, you had multiple containers welded to the front decks containing empty pallets. Then early in the morning you dispatched your carpenters with most of those empty pallets to construct a temporary dock suitable for the tenders to safely deposit the passengers on shore……..I loved that, improvisation and ingenuity at its very best…….Ruud

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