- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

28 June 2019: Flam, Norway.

Yesterday we sailed from Geiranger around 16.00 hrs. and made a 360o swing stop at the Seven Sisters waterfall on the way out. As part of the goodbye celebrations for the ship, the company had arranged for a deck party with complimentary drinks. So the deck area around the Lido Pool was packed with guests enjoying snacks such as Dutch Bitterballen and Indonesian Sate and free drinks.

Party on deck with all the flags out, drinks, bitterballen and above it all the Seven Sisters Waterfall

With the ships officers and (guest) entertainers circulating among the guests a good time was had by all while watching the impressive scenery. It was a bit strange for me as I was always on the bridge when we were here but now being a guest entertainer for this cruise, my place was in the bar. I did not need much time to adapt myself fully to the new circumstances………………….

Today we are in Flam located at the end of the Eidfjord. Well at the end is not completely true as it continues a little bit on the far side of where we are but as far as ships go this is the end; the terminal of the Flam train and the main reason we are here. The little train port has one dock and that is made to the size of the Hurtigruten postal boats and thus most ships overhang. Even the Prinsendam is sticking out with the bow and the stern. And we did dock as we were the only cruise ship in port today. And as the cruise ship season is now in full swing, we were thus quite lucky. With another ship in, the chance that that ship would have been smaller than us would be quite remote and thus we would have been bumped to the anchorage.  To accommodate large cruise ships, they have installed heavy bollards outside the dock area to ensure that the very big boys can dock as well.  And those big boys are coming in and thus the trains going up and over the mountain are getting longer and longer as well.  With the Prinsendam a considerable number of guests have been here before and up & down with the train so they either stayed on board or went for a walk around the train station and up and down the roads nearby.

 

Everything is coordinated by the Hotel staff team. From left to right, Purser, Asst. Housekeeper, Food and Beverage Director, Casino Manager, Human Resources Manager, Retail Manager, Photo Manager, Greenhouse Spa Manager, Exe. Housekeeper, IT Officer and the Entertainment Coordinator. Not visible on this photo but on the  next one: Hotel Director and Guest Relations Manager.

On board the packing up is in full swing and also the completion of all routine activities. Everybody is running around with carton paper to make boxes and the recycling center which normally piles up the carton for recycling ashore now sees carton going the other way for packing up purposes. Which I suppose is a sort of recycling and re-use as well. This whole pack-up operation takes an enormous amount of planning, even with the ship staying as it is. The new operator basically takes over everything that is nailed to the ship and is not specific Holland America. Thus for the last few months certain HAL inventory items have already been transferred to other ships. Those items we call Slow-Inventory-Moving- Items. These will be used in the long run but are not needed every day. How many cooking pans do you need spare on board, how may bathrobes do you need to have in stock outside the regular cycle in use? Thus many inventory items have been moved to other ships already.

The Hotel Team operates under the leadership of the ships Hotel Director Mr. Rene Tuinman.

Items that were or might have been needed for the last voyages remained on board and are now being packed up and most of it will be transferred to the ms Rotterdam, docked behind us in Amsterdam on 1 July. Bar and Housekeeping inventory will simply become part of the RTDM inventory as they use the same items. And so each department doing their own little thing and is packing up boxes for transfer/ shipment. Crew is clearing out their cabins and that is separate from packing-up. It is amazing what crew members build into their cabins through the years. Little shelves, foldable seats, little stools, everything to make a standard crew cabin more homely and practical. The cabins have to be delivered clean and ready for use, regardless of what the new owner is going to do with them, and thus a recycle center was set up in Boogie Plaza where everything coming out of the cabins was sorted into trash, plastic and recyclables.

I have blogged about this in the past, but the crew areas on board of Royal Viking Sun, were given specific names. Such as Broadway (guess who lives there) and also we have Boogie Street and Boogie Plaza named after a famous street in Singapore. Boogie Plaza is the large crew area on deck 4 in front of the forward staircase. Sometimes we have our gangway there and then the guest see what it is. Around it are the crew elevators, the crew bicycle storage and the Crew Office so it is a major crew congregation area.

We will sail from Flam at 19.00 hrs. and then follow an inside passage to get to Bergen.  Most ships have to go outside as there is a bridge in the way but the ms Prinsendam fits under this bridge, as well as under a lot of other bridges in Norway and thus we stay inside. Always handy when it is bad weather but it is also a shorter route.

We expect to be docked tomorrow morning by 08.00 hrs. and will stay until 22.00 hrs. giving the guests the chance to enjoy Bergen by night, although it will still be daylight. So I hope for dry weather but the weather forecast mentions a chance of showers in the evening but not that great a chance. But in the morning and until the midafternoon it should be partly cloudy with noon temperatures around 18oC / 65oF and that is high summer for the Norwegians. We will not be alone as on the schedule to be with us are the Ocean Majesty (A small ship on which my wife once worked; we considered that not a cruise line but a “happening”) and the Vasco Da Gama. She was originally the ms Statendam of Holland America Line so it will be nice to see my old ship back where I was captain in 2001 and 2011 – 2014.

Today four other crew photos and this time from our Concessionaires. Concessionaires are employed by an outside company’s that have concessions on board. Such as the Photographers, the Casino, the Shops and Green House Spa. Although not Holland America crew, they are still an integral part of the ships’ crew and some of them arrange it so that contract after contract they remain with Holland America Line. And thus I feature them on the blog.

The photographers are considered a concession but they are really part of the company at large. It is just that they work directly with their colleagues in the fleet and not so much as an integrated team in the ships Hotel Department.

The Photography Team.                                                                                                                                (I was quite chuffed with my self that I was taking a photo of the professionals who normally do this work)

The shops on board are located on deck 8 behind the Front Office. To make things complicated the shops are manned by two concessions, one for the regular duty free and another one for the Jewelry.  Both entities are overseen and coordinated by a Retail Manager who is employed by Holland America Line.

The Retail Team or Shops On Board.

The ships Casino is located on Deck 8 portside aft, just behind the ships Explorations Centre. This is the end of an era for the Casino as the new owner has decided that it does not need a casino and thus the area will be changed into 10 cabins.

The Casino Team

The Greenhouse Spa is located aft on deck 9, where there are sauna’s on the portside, a fitness area in the centre and treatment rooms and Beauty Parlor on the Starboard side.

The Greenhouse Spa Team.

4 Comments

  1. Captain, as usual, your blogs are totally enlightening and so informative. Thank you…thank you.
    Holland America will no doubt appreciate your extending their ownership of
    PRISENDAM a whole month…perhaps at no cost, since we are now JULY 29th….

    Tongue in cheek, and not to take away an ounce of gratitude for your tremendous
    dedication in producing your classy and pleasant blogs.
    Cheers
    Claude

    • Captain Albert

      June 29, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      oops……………….. I did not see that. Thank you all corrected, as I think that the Germans will not go for a month for free.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  2. Willibrordus Gelens

    June 29, 2019 at 8:02 am

    So now i understand you were “my” captain on my first HAL/Statendamcruise end 2011/begin 2012 from San Diego to Dr. Lauderdale. I enjoyed you repeatetly saying “the most elegant Statendam”

  3. Steven Freesman

    June 29, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Thoroughly enjoying your comments on the winding down of the Prinsendam. Would love to read more about how the ship is closed down by HAL and how the turnover takes place. Thanks!

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