- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

27 October 2007, At Sea.

After a very speedy departure we spent the night sailing through the Yucatan channel, heading for the Gulf of Mexico. The strong wind suddenly fell away during the night as the cold front decided to tip even deeper into the Caribbean and we entered the rainy sector. During the day the wind shifted and rose to a strong Breeze from the north east. Weather we kept all the way to Tampa.

A few blogs ago I wrote about recognizing crewmembers who do something out of the ordinary. Well we have another program that give crew the chance to stand out. It is called the HESS program. Health, Environmental, Safety and Sanitation program. We have several interdepartmental committees on board who deal with issues pertaining to the above. As the rules are constantly changing it is a lot of work to keep the crew up-to-date and the ship in compliance. The company instigated the HESS award recently to encourage crewmembers to come forward with idea’s to improve operating practices on board, and if found useful, to implement them fleet wide. There is a monthly prize of a $ 100 to win and it does not have to be a “big idea” but it has to be useful. We get about 10 to 15 idea’s each month. All the ideas are voted upon and the best one selected for the prize of the month. The other idea’s do not fall by the wayside but get a chance to win the next month. All idea’s that pass scrutiny are forwarded to the Head office and evaluated there for implementation fleet wide.

This month the Foreman engine department was the winner. He was concerned about people smoking above or near the oil fuel barge when the ship was taking on fuel in the home port. He suggested roping off the open deck (lower promenade deck) that runs above and along the hull where the barge is positioned and to put temporary signs on the balcony’s overlooking the barge during the time of the fuel transfer. This would indeed be a good thing to do. We have not had any problems yet, or ever before, but there is always the first time. The idea was forwarded to the office and if approved will be fleet wide implemented with company designed signs and standard procedures. The person with the idea then also has the chance to win a bigger prize of $ 1000,–.
Hes award
Mr. Achmand Royyan Foreman engine receiving his HESS award.
During our gathering of the Mariners Society we had a more unusual recipient of an award. Namely a Chef de Partie (section chief in the kitchen) who had sailed 30 years with Holland America. He had started out in 1977 on the previous Veendam and now celebrated this milestone with the company on board the current Veendam. It is difficult to think of something to properly recognize such a longtime dedication to the company, so I like to hand out the company ring (30 year milestone) during the Mariners party. It always gives a bit more cachet to the ceremony. Our cook got a standing ovation from the 600 Mariners present and of course later had to be congratulated by everybody passing through the Lido line for lunch.

Tomorrow is Tampa and the end of the first Caribbean cruise of the season. The weather was not really “Caribbean like” but no doubt it will improve.

1 Comment

  1. Captain,
    It’s good to know that Holland of America have such good sysems for rewarding their staff’s loyalty and commitment and that ships’ masters, such as yourself, take good care to implement them.
    Any organisation, including cruise ships, can only be as good and effective as the people who work in them. Judging from the length of service of some of your staff, the recognition they receive (not just the pay) is truly appreciated by them. And I guess that the passenger ‘saved’ by the application of the ‘Hemlich’ technique to relieve choking, recently, was especially appreciative of the high quality of emergency training that your line provides! The particular aspect of Mr Royyan’s suggestion which I liked is that it is ‘proactive’; so much better to use intelligent anticipation to prevent an accident happening than to learn from the inquiry into one after it has happened. Re-cycling the mattresses to charity also seems an excellent initiative even though it imposes significant demands on your schedule.

    I’m sure that all your avid readers are also pleased by your new-found ability to add photographs to your blog diary. Perhaps some panoramic Caribbean scenes will appear on future trips? Why not sound effects, too, like some calypso music at night, or street-market shouting, or even the ship’s siren greetings you previously described? For my part, I’m considering how I can get the chair I use at the computer to be modified so that I can get it to do some pitch, roll and list effects while I read your daily log, to tie in with your descriptions of weather conditions and their influence on the ship!

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