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 ideaâ€™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 ideaâ€™s each month. All the ideas are voted upon and the best one selected for the prize of the month. The other ideaâ€™s do not fall by the wayside but get a chance to win the next month. All ideaâ€™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 balconyâ€™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,–.
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.