- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Cruises of the Past (page 1 of 2)

2021 Feb. 17; Waiting for Better Times.

Dear Readers,

Here a little update from my side.  I have not posted since July 20 last year as the worldwide situation was so fluid that any update from my side would be old news, before it was uploaded.

I hope that everybody is doing well and adhering to the precautions needed for succeeding in defeating the Covid-19 virus. Here in England vaccination is well on its way and it is now becoming apparent that the continuous spread of the virus is mainly due to not keeping a social distance, wearing a mask and washing your hands.   Not much different as what we were used to in the past when there was a norovirus challenge on the ships. The Covid-19 virus is of course much more aggressive and deadly but the principles of combating it are not much different. Remember when you were on the ships; Sing happy birthday twice when washing your hands with water and soap. If we not all do our little thing, then we will never get the cruise ships going again. Continue reading

10 March 2020: At Sea, 2nd day.

The calm weather is holding, we just have some showers in the area, but mainly above land. Mexico is visible at times as we are sailing as much as we can on a straight course and thus the land comes closer or veers away depending on its out croppings. This morning we passed the “nick” on our course line where we change to a more northerly course as the coast also angles back. The most prominent point over here is called Isla Cedros and it is here where we have more current with us or against us or as today, there was not much current at all. The course we are now on, will take us up to the USA/Mexican border and once we pass Ensenada it is only a few miles to the San Diego Pilot Station. Continue reading

25 Feb. 2020; At Sea, Day 2.

Today is our second day at sea and we are now firmly embedded in the Old Bahama Channel between Cuba to the south and the Bahama Bank to the north; and that stopped any swell out there. As a result the ship is now as steady as a rock and we are having a wonderful day at sea. We have a following wind, so there is only a gentle breeze on the deck as the ship is almost traveling at the same speed / velocity that the wind is blowing.  Going this way, we have the current with us, as this is the current that will eventually join the Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida. It is given us a push of about 0.7 knots per hour and that translates roughly in an average of a 0.5 knots all the way from St. Thomas to Ft. Lauderdale. Yesterday when we were in the open there was a lot less water current and early tomorrow morning when entering the Gulf Stream there will be a lot more. But a following current saves speed and thus fuel, so our Chief Engineer is a happy camper. Continue reading

23 February 2020; Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas.

St Thomas considers itself the cruise capital of the world, due to the number of cruise ships calling here. But today there was little of that noticeable as we were the only ship in Havensight. For the shop keepers disappointing as the area is geared up to handling 10 000+ guests a day and then only having 1200 is not very exciting. On the other hand you can give some of your shop staff a day off before they roll in again in their thousands.  But at least for us an empty pier worked very well, gangway right across the main gate into town, what else you ask for. Continue reading

20 Feb. 2020; At Sea.

Regular Caribbean Sea weather to day. Although we are in the North Atlantic Ocean, this area is fully under the influence of the Trade Winds, which also dictate the weather in the Caribbean Sea, so there is really no difference. They decided to name the Caribbean Sea, the Caribbean Sea because it is enclosed all the way around with Caribbean islands. Starting with Trinidad and going up all the way to the Western Tip of Cuba. I just wonder how history would have treated the area if Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Cuba would have been missing and there would have been a completely open area all the way up to Freeport? Would it have been the Greater Bahamian Sea or the Gulf of Jamaica? Who knows, the naming of locations do not always make sense. Columbus discovered the America’s but we have called the America’s after Amerigo Vespucci who came sometime later. (Although while Columbus thought he was also in India, Amerigo was the first who proved that North and South America where not part of Asia) Continue reading

14 Feb. 2020; At Sea.

Sailing today through some gorgeous Caribbean weather, the way things should be. Late this morning we left the Straits of Florida behind us and curved around Cabo San Antonio into the Caribbean Sea. While in the Straits of Florida we had the current against us, although by hugging the coast of Cuba it was not much as the axis of the Gulf Stream was much more to the North. Then we sailed around  Cabo which we could only see on the Radar as there is a Vessel Traffic Separation scheme around the Cape which is designed to keep the ships apart. We are southbound and thus we have the downward lane to the west, far away from land, while the northbound ships have the upward lane to the East.  In the past ships tried to cut the corners here, sometimes with alarming results and in the late 70’s some wise people at the IMO (International Maritime Organization ) decided to put highways at sea in to keep the opposing flows separate. Not only here but at most bottle necks around the world. Once around the corner we headed on a South Easterly course into the Carib and now we have both wind and current against us. But eventually after we turn around at Ocho Rios we have it all behind us all the time. Continue reading

06 November 2019; At Sea (Day 1)

I always love it when the weather follows the weather forecast as we then do not look so stupid if things do not happen the way we announced it. But it took about an hour to sail clear of Madeira as it is quite a big and long island and then indeed the ship started to move again as predicted. Also as predicted during the course of this morning the seas abated, the wind changed direction and the movement of the ship got less pronounced. By lunch time there was only an occasional twist to remind us that we are still at sea. And even that got less in the course of the afternoon. Now we are looking forward to a number of nice and quiet sea days and our only concern is that in two or three days Cape Hatteras will churn out a new depression and if that happens and it goes a bit to the south then our last day we might see some choppy seas again. On the other hand, most of that day we will be in the lee of the Bahamian Islands so we should be all right. Continue reading

20 October 2019; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

We are always confused on the ships of where we are exactly going. The whole cruise world speaks about Fort Lauderdale where the cruise starts or ends but it is of course really Port Everglades. So I try to explain to everybody that Port Everglades, is what it is, the Port to the Everglades. It is part of Broward County which has a major who is also the boss of Port Everglades. (Please do not tell the Harbor Master) Fort Lauderdale is a separate entity and has its own mayor. For most of the officers on board who cannot get their head around it, the fact that there are two mayors normally makes the penny drop. For the rest it is a bit of a mix. Although the Sheriff of Broward County runs the security in the port we also see police cars from the Ft. Lauderdale police force cruising around but I have no idea if that is for work or on the way through. But no doubt they work together when somebody crosses the dotted line. I remember once, in the gray mists of time, one of our crew members became a little bit too happy in a pub. So happy that he thought that the waitress was in love with him. She was not so she called the police. Up showed Ft. Lauderdale police and then at the security checkpoint of the port he was switched from a police car to a sheriff car. In those days things were quite simple, the sheriff simply asked the captain to do something.  And the captain did something. He was booted off the ship in the next suitable port when he was sober again. So maybe he is telling his grandchildren now: Grand dad was once arrested by the police and then released by the sheriff and he only had to change cars to do this. Continue reading

17 October 2019; New York, USA.

We had a bit of a bumpy night and a slightly moving ship. What “slightly” was depended on the view of the guests as some spoke of a heavy storm and some dismissed it as an occasional “bump”. I have been assigned a cabin above the Azipods this time and the only thing I had to do was to move the coat hangers in the closet as they rattled on occasion. That is not a regular ships noise and thus it will wake me up. We did have quite a bit of wind during the night with gusts to over 60 knots but as we were heading into the first arrival of the storm, the storm had not been able to generate very high waves and thus the ship did not provide the roller coaster ride, something some guests had been afraid of. Continue reading

16 October 2019; Newport Rhode Island, USA.

By 10 am this morning we were at anchor at Newport. Further out than we really liked as the Riviera had the best spot because she had arrived earlier.  It was sunny but there was a strong breeze blowing, stronger than we had hoped for as the wind was only supposed to get really going in the early evening. Referring to my blog of yesterday: the weather was not really organized. Still the circumstances were good enough to operate a tender service and thus the ship got things on the road. We had even drafted in a local tender, the Amazing Grace and later another on, the Katharine, to cover the long tender distance as good as possible. Still it was slow going for a while, due to the tender distance but also due to the wind which forced the tenders to be extra careful. But still it worked. Continue reading

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