- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

26 December 2008, Roatan.

It all looked like a good day in Roatan. I arrived while it was still dark in order to get the ship cleared early and to get a good start with getting everybody ashore. This was a short stop from 7 am to noon time only and with ferrying a potential 1395 guests ashore, the ship had a challenge on its hands. The dock was occupied by the Carnival Legend, they have a regular call here each week and thus we had to anchor. The Veendam approached the anchorage while the Legend was still behind and she passed by while we were in the process of lowering the tenders and picking up the authorities from the shore side.

This procedure goes like clockwork, as we have planning sessions the day before with the tender drivers and the officers at the gangway and ashore, so that everybody is on the same page. We have charts, photos and terminal layouts, all collected during previous visits. As a matter of fact I always carry an external hard drive with me; with photos of every port in the world I have been to since the invention of the digital camera. It helps greatly to do these planning sessions with the aid of those photos; as a picture says a thousand words. It was therefore not expected when we arrived that we found out that the authorities, for reasons un-explainable, had decided to move the tender dock to the other side of the T pier. However going around the stern of the Carnival Legend is not so much different than going around the bow of the same. Thus we arranged accordingly.

As it was nice weather, I could park the Veendam about 2000 feet away from the Legend and operate the shuttle service with two tenders as the little tender dock could only handle one tender at the time anyway. By 7 am we had the tours ashore and everything was rolling nicely. By 09.30 we had all the guests off who wanted to go ashore and then it happened. Within 15 minutes the weather changed from nice and sunny, to nasty rainy and windy. Suddenly a rain squall moved in over the island from the East bringing dense rain and wind gusts of up to 40 knots. Sitting on a marginal anchorage with 40 knots of wind blowing, and a wind shifting directions all the time, was not pleasant. Thus our emergency procedures kicked in and within 5 minutes I had the Veendam on full standby. With the main engines and thrusters going, I could keep the ship well in position but we had to postpone the tender service for awhile until the winds died down sufficiently. By the time that happened, it was to late for any guests to still go ashore (provided there were any left onboard who still wanted to do so) so I had to stop shore leave. Now the task started to get all the guests back onboard who had been returning from shore to the tender dock and could not get back.

Luckily they could shelter in the terminal while waiting for the rain and wind to abate but it took awhile to get a backlog of 600 guests back to the ship, with only one tender dock location available. In the end we sailed an hour and 25 minutes late. Lost time I could ill afford as the schedule to Tampa was already tight to start with. So as soon as all the tenders were housed, we put the after burners on and raced with full speed away towards Tampa. It looks like it that I will be on time but not as early as I prefer to be.

And the Weather………….. as soon as the rain squall was over, it was beautiful, glorious sunshine a gentle breeze and a pleasant temperature. Roatan is quite a nice place to visit, if you can dock the ship and it does not rain.

Tomorrow is a sea day and it will be sunny,…….. but windy…but what’s new.

Well uploading the power point did not work, so here is just the screenshot, without the music, the twinkling stars and the moving Santa Boat.


  1. Happy Holidays to you and yours from us and thanks for the posted card. We will never forget the June round trip we took and also will never forget your advice: Happy Birthday to you, the whole song.. If it keeps germs away like it did for us, it is worth doing every time. Some of the 14,000 pictures we took are on the website if you or Lesley ever get “free time” to see them. Many thanks again for the memories. Jon and Kathy

  2. Vrolijk Kerstfeest (beetje laat) en een gelukking Nieuw Jaar! De beste wensen, Kapitein!

  3. Unfortunately, being able to “shelter in the terminal” meant being guest 500 instead of guest 100 to 499 back on the ship and several hours in line. Most of us felt every bit of the 40 knot wind and rain while waiting for the tender.

  4. Missed Career at Sea

    December 29, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    WELL – – – I don’t know if I can fit all this on my T-shirt – – – 🙂 [I got to see the whole ‘pitchur’] Many thanks for your kind wishes on yesterday’s blog, Captain Albert and Lesley. Never mind that the celestial tableau is shrouded in silence and calmness. The two main stars in this Galaxie is what is of interest to your readers. Both the ‘Team Veendam’ and the ‘Captain and his wife’ pictures turned out very, very nice. Just reading your daily blogs around your Christmas time exhausted me! By the way, this was the first year I saw on land the addition of “happy Winter Solstice celebrations” that the landlubbers have to add due to the many other religions in town . . . [makes you wonder, right?] What a riotous Dutch tradition again, for the crew to be served by the officers! Wish I were there. On to the next celebration before you sign off and start a new chapter in your career, Captain!

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