- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

29 May, Venice.

After a night with rainy weather we arrived at 05.30 at the Venice pilot station where the weather improved rapidly. By the time we docked the rain clouds had receded to the horizon and the sun started to come out. Getting into the berth was a tight operation as we had on one side the Carnival Freedom and on the other side the Sky Wonder. The rest of the day turned out very to be nice, so good that the sail away party in the afternoon could be held on the outside deck.

The Sky Wonder is a most peculiar ship as it is a steam ship. The last cruise ship that was built with steam propulsion. The ship was constructed as the Fairsky for Sitmar cruises in the 1983. The owner of Sitmar at that time, Boris Vlasov, was a strong believer in steam even when all the other ships were motorized to reduce fuel consumption. His calculation was based on the idea that a steam plant requires less maintenance and will thus offset, in the long run, the cost of the extra fuel needed to attain the same speed. When the ship entered service the cruise industry kept a close eye on the performance of the Fairsky, often comparing the ship with the Nieuw Amsterdam and Noordam of Holland America Line. The N-ships had very slow running motor engines which were very fuel efficient. When the oil prices started to rise in the late 80’s the concept of the Fairsky did not work anymore and thus she was the last cruise ship built with a steam plant. The ship remained highly successful and after Sitmar was taken over by Princess, she became the Sky Princess. Since about a year she is owned by the Spanish operator Pullmantur.

We have one more cruise to go and then the ship will leave for Baltic, by means of a 14 day European Capitals cruise. From a point of logistics it is not so easy to provision a ship that is on the move and therefore we prefer to do this in the home port or turn around port. For the Mediterranean this is Venice and for the Baltic it will be Copenhagen. Stocking up for a regular cruise and for the coming 14 days after that takes a bit of doing and today was a very busy day for the provisions master as truck after truck arrived. Every item had to be checked off and frozen and chilled supplies to be directly packed away into the cold rooms. However all was loaded on time and the process will be repeated again 10 days from now.

We are now starting a charter cruise. Olivia’s Mediterranean Culinary Adventure cruise. Olivia’s is an organization for and by women. Ladies who prefer their own company to those of others. Thus we have a 1000 of them on board and great fun it is. Olivia’ charters each year 3 to 5 cruises with a Holland America and they love the company. My crew likes these cruises too. The atmosphere on board is really upbeat and a great time is had by all. This cruise they have brought on board a number of celebrity chefs who will do special cooking demonstrations during the cruise, hence the name Culinary Adventure cruise. It is a regular East Mediterranean cruise with a little twist as we will swap the port of Katakolon with the port of Mykonos.


  1. Just wanted to leave a comment to let you know how much I enjoy reading your accounts of your various ports and sea days. I love the detail you get into at times about the other ships at the ports as well as all the other information about the ports, ship life, being a captain and everything else. I’m especially looking forward to reading about your European Capitals cruise as I am looking to do that particular cruise (if it is offered) in 2009. Any advice on which ports are better than others or which cruises might be better than others?

    Thanks for taking your readers along with you!

  2. Thank you so much for posting your very interesting, well-written journal! Having sailed on the May 19-29 Italian Enchantment Cruise on the Veendam I want to thank you, Captain Schoonderbeek, so much for all you did to make our cruise so enjoyable and memorable. It is so interesting reading about these 10 days from a totally different perspective than we passengers experience. It helps us appreciate even more your experience and expertise on the High Seas!

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