Today we were on our last leg of our North Atlantic Crossing. By 8 pm tonight we will be entering the North East Providence Channel which connects to the North West Providence Channel. Whoever dreamt up those names was not very imaginative as it is basically the same stretch of water. Still it is the only gap through the Northern part of the Bahamas and it forms the shortest route to the coast of Florida and thus we are going there. As mentioned before this gap results in traffic conversing upon it and after five days of seeing barely anything, the navigators had to remember again that the Rules of the Road were there for a reason. We had now firmly the top rim of the North Equatorial current going with us and that gave us about a knot of extra speed. A little bit of free help from Mother Nature for the chief engineer’s fuel budget. It was a beautiful and sunny day with an almost flat calm sea. The stormy day from before was already quickly fading into memory.
On the last day of the cruise, everything is geared up for the guests with the last opportunity to do many things.. The shops were doing a roaring trade in half priced T-shirts left over from the beginning of the last cruise. Even if you have not been to Turkey, it still looks cool to come home with a Hal-T shirt with Turkey embroidered on it. The Photographers were selling their cruise DVD’s and the crew said goodbye to the guests. The latter takes place during the disembarkation talk of the Cruise Director, during which all the information is given about how to get off the ship. Disembarking while being in compliance with the rules and regulations of the US Custom and Border Protection. As those rules are changing on a regular basis, it is important for the guests to attend because you cannot rely of what you remember from the last cruise that you made.
The last day of a cruise for the crew a little bit of a strange day as they are already with one foot into the next cruise. All of us are already planning how to get through change over day in order to get the next cruise going on time and correctly. For the Prinsendam this is much more complicated than for a cruise ship that does the same run every week. They have the advantage of routine and can spread everything out over numerous calls. We only call at the USA four or times a year, with long gaps in between and that means that a number of things all come together on one day.
So tomorrow we will have to store for the 3 week Amazon voyage and we will have to store it all. There is no other port along the route where we can stock up, mostly due to the long custom clearance procedures that we would be exposed to. Thus we are expecting to load about 300 pallets of all that we need for this cruise. Then we will have our yearly USCG inspection, which includes a full fire drill and a boat drill and while this is going on, all loading and unloading work (recyclables, and parts going ashore for repair will stop) As we have been away from the USA for more then three months there will be a full -face to face- crew inspection and that will slow the work down as well. Of all the crew 195 will have to go ashore for a 2nd inspection as they are Indonesians. They will be away in groups for 1 to 2 hours and that labor will be missed. We have a crew change over of about 85, including key personnel and they will also not be available for work. All of this has to be done between off loading guest luggage, disembarking guests; loading luggage and embarking guests. It is going to be a very challenging day.
Tomorrow at 2 am we are starting to cross the Florida Straits to be at the pilot station at 06.00 hrs. Ahead of us will be the Allure of the Seas and the Navigator of the Seas. The weather looks good, if a little windy but with temperatures around 8oF.