- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

28 March 2015; Caribbean Sea.

Today we sailed on a slightly NNW course towards the Windward Passage the gap between Cuba and Haiti on Hispaniola. This means that during this course we sailed south along the East side of Hispaniola and then north on the West side. A sort of circumnavigation of the island with a very wide turn. The area under Hispaniola now looks again as it used to, very windy, but not too much swell as the angle of the Trade Wind is half over the island and that reduces the free wind surface needed  to whip up the waves in height.

This was a thing I used to my advantage during my first year as Captain on the old Noordam. Learning how to use this to my advantage. No open water around, no swell or waves rolling in. Being used to not being able to operate a tender service in ports when the winds were stronger than force 5 or 6 because of the generated swell causing too much chop at the tender platform. Then I came to Greece. Here the Etesian winds from the North can easily blow 35 to 45 knots at times and I found out if I anchored close enough to the shore then the wind might be ferocious but there was not enough distance for the waves to build up. At the same time that strong wind would keep the ship away from drifting onto the shore.

The harbour of Pythagorion by night. We parked our tenders right in the middle of the town.

The harbour of Pythagorion by night. We parked our tenders right in the middle of the town.

The best example was Pythagorion on the island of Samos. When I arrived it was blowing a severe gale but coming closer to the breakwater of the port the flatter the water went. In the end I dropped two anchors about half a ships length from the breakwater and ran a perfect tender service for the day. The tenders docked straight onto the little boulevard with rows and rows of Taverna’s right across the street. Tendering during a full gale and the guests really did not notice it. We stayed until 11 pm. and while normally Guests all return for dinner on board, that evening we had a really hard time of getting them out of those taverna’s and back on board. The little town was in the shade of the mountains and there was hardly any wind blowing through the town so everybody could sit comfortably ashore. Sitting in Greece under starry night with a good glass of wine looking at a fairy tale lighted ship was Paradise revisited and nobody wanted to return. If I remember rightly we had 3 tenders lined up at 22.30 in the evening to get everybody back on board at the same time.

Through all the years this was for some reason a call which I have never forgotten.  We only called there a few times and later not at all anymore. I wonder if it has changed much. Most cruise ships call at Kusidasi just around the corner which attracts more people due to the tours to Ephesus.

Greece is far away from the Caribe, although I will be there again in the very near future. The training class for new officers is coming to an end here on board the Noordam. For three weeks they have been listening to the HAL gospel as preached by me. They have been suffering under a assignment dreamed up by nasty me and been exposed to training drills they had never dreamt about by an even nastier me.  Tomorrow is the final day with presentations; handing out certificates and finishing off with a farewell dinner. Then some of them will fly home, waiting for their first assignment. Two of them already have their assignment, here on the Noordam and can simply stay on.

I will fly home for a few days, and on the 5th. of April join the Prinsendam for 3 weeks in the Mediterranean which will include several Greek ports.  As the Prinsendam normally does some unusual ports there will no doubt some items of interest to highlight. My blog will be silent until the 6th. when the Prinsendam leaves Barcelona for travelling into the Med. All the way up to Istanbul.

Tomorrow will be our last day at sea, travelling to the old Bahama channel towards Fort Lauderdale. The guests on board have had a really warm and sunny cruise, so they should be very happy.

Weather forecast: there is a frontal system descending onto Cuba from the American East coast and that will cause cloudiness and a considerable drop in temperature.  Time to put the sun tan lotion away.

I will be back in a week.


  1. Sandra Hutchins

    March 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Captain Albert.
    I love your blogs and I have learned so much from you.
    Just wondered. You have a photo of the Koningsdam on your blog and it says, launching February 2016.
    Guessed that someone just forgot to correct it.

  2. Missed Career at Sea

    March 30, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Some who have been repeatedly asking if you were going back on the Prinsendam, will be ecstatic to find out they can finally mob you on board … 🙂 I suppose the Amsterdam has fallen out of your schedule?
    As a side thought; since your boarding on the Rijndam (08 Feb 15) many not so good happenings have occurred in Nova Scotia, including a recent “hard landing” of an Air Canada flight 🙂
    I’ve followed your travels around on your blog, as well as the travels of the only other Captain under whose command I sailed with. Incredible, that of the four I was privileged to observe their expertise, two have already gone on retirement !
    Hope you had a safe flight, Captain!

  3. Missed Career at Sea

    March 30, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Wrong face ! It should be 🙁

  4. Richard Murrow

    March 31, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Captain Albert,

    I just joined the Noordam yesterday in Florida. I have been reading your blog for years, since you wrote about taking the Prinsendam on an Amazon cruise round trip Ft. Lauderdale However, I have never posted a comment. I heard that our normal captain had to return home for an urgent family issue and a captain that was on here for training crew will be filling in for a few days, until St. Maarten. If you’re still on the Noordam, would you consider having your lecture tomorrow about the history of Holland America Line? I have looked forward for years to be able to attend your lecture on the history of the cruise line, since I started reading your blog.

    Thank you,

    • Thank you for replying to my blog.

      You should have received my letter by now in the cabin.

      If It had been known that I would have been staying on longer in this situation then we could and would have made arrangements to do so. Now it was too short a time to move the entertainment schedule around.
      Hopefully next time.

      I hope you will enjoy the rest of your cruise.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  5. Photos: Prinsendam in Funchal


    12 Prinsendam photos

  6. Missed Career at Sea

    March 31, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Obviously, I’m NOT happy that an Air Canada flight made a “hard landing” in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Captain …. Twenty-five hospitalized as a result is more of a collision with ground level ! I meant to type a sad face after my second para. Perhaps a longer comment will get into your Comments section ? Many thanks, and have a nice one week holiday !

  7. Captain Albert,

    Thank you very much for the facinating blog.

    I had to chuckle reading about you being “nasty” to new Officers during their introduction training

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