- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

28 March 2012; At Sea.

 Today we had our first sea day after two hectic days and that gave the crew the chance to settle back into the normal routine of offering “HAL Life” on board. We have quite a few sea days on this cruise but it is always amazing the amount of items that are scheduled for the last two days. Nobody here on board complains about sea days, as a matter of fact is quite often the reason that guests choose this cruise, and all pay great attention to the numerous offerings listed in the daily program. This cruise we have over 900 Mariners on board again (those who have at least spent 21 days with us on cruises in the past) and indeed quite a few of them choose the Statendam for the Sea Days, including about 150 who will do the return trip as well. Thus we have guests on board who sail San Diego – Fort Lauderdale – San Diego and those who sail Fort Lauderdale – San Diego – Fort Lauderdale. For the latter there is always a fair number of Europeans who are doing this. Which makes good sense in a way. By the time you have paid for the flight from Europe to San Diego you already coughed up enough, so if you have the time why not add that additional 14 day return trip as well. 

One of the responsibilities of a Captain is to ensure that a ship’s crew does not work too many hours in a week. For that there is Dutch legislation which coincides with the international labor laws under the ILO convention. Most seafaring countries are members of that convention and, ……..what is new……….; the captain has been made responsible to look after that. To ensure compliance the company has produced a computer program that makes it possible for each crewmember to log their daily hours. For that purpose we have terminals everywhere in the crew area’s and each morning the crew officer reviews if everybody has typed in their hours for the day before. Once a week, the Head of Department, enters a tentative schedule for the coming week and if the crewmember is only working during those hours then, he/she only has to confirm that. If there is a deviation then it is the responsibility of that crewmember to  make sure that the variation is logged. The purpose of it all is to ensure that each crewmember gets at least 10 hours of rest each day. E.G Complete time off. For crew belonging to the deck and engine department, who run fixed watches, those 10 hours can be split in a 6 and a 4, but there have to be at least 10. For most hotel crew the split is 8 and 2 and some are lucky enough, such as the entertainment side who have much more than 10 hours free time a day. In emergencies and due to scheduled demands it is allowed to have less than 10 hours rest in a certain day, but then it has to be made up for the next day.

If this rule was not there, then a captain could not even work. There are (sea days) with good weather where he can get away with 7 hours a day but during a day such as the Panama Canal an 18 hour day is not unusual. So as long as the total work week is no longer than 91 hours and the 6 /4 rest rule is observed on a regular basis were are in compliance. A work week for a regular crewmember hovers somewhere between the 70 and 80 hours. That is quite a lot compared to a regular work ashore of 40 hours, but do not forget, when we go on leave we do not have anything to do for 2 or 3 months. (Except the Honey-DO list of course).

Compliance with these regulations is regularly verified by me and from the outside by Port State Inspections and the company itself by means of their internal audits. On occasion you read in the newspapers about reports where proof has been found that crew on ships were working too many hours and the resulting fatigue caused accidents or even shipping disasters. This is one of the reasons why the ILO rules are there and that is why it makes sense to live by them. There is hardly any reason to have a crewmember work so many hours. With good management, tasks can be redistributed and schedules optimized that even extra work can be absorbed into a normal the daily routine. And if we go over, then it is the duty of the captain to pick up the phone and call the office to ask for more crew to come on board. And that also works.

So today we a routine day at sea and I worked a little less to offset my Panama Canal Day. It still gave me the chance to do my Holland America Lecture in the afternoon, but I do not classify that as work, but as hobby. Tonight we sail through the Windward passage between Cuba and Haiti and tomorrow we will spend the whole day in the Old Bahama Channel, North of Cuba, sailing towards Florida. The weather looks good, sunny skies and following wind and thus the guests will have a great last day on board. A final day, unless you are of course one of the 150+ who also do the return trip.


  1. wanneer wordt er nu weer vertrokken uit Ford Lauderdale?31 maart of 1 april.?
    Wilt u de groeten aan Joke Hazenberg doen?

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