- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Good Deeds

2022, March 31: ms Volendam to help with the Refugee Effort in Rotterdam

Good morning, You might find the below Press Release of Interest.

Holland America Line Ship Will Become Temporary Home for Ukrainian Refugees in the Netherlands

Volendam will house and feed up to 1,500 people as part of government’s commitment to help families


Rotterdam, Netherlands, March 31, 2022 — Holland America Line‘s Volendam will be used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees as part of an agreement announced by Netherlands and City of Rotterdam government officials. The ship will dock in Rotterdam for three months to provide a temporary home for approximately 1,500 Ukrainians, part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 people who fled the war in their homeland.


“We are in a unique position to accommodate the immediate need for food and housing, so we felt it was very important to work with the City of Rotterdam and charter this ship,” said Gus Antorcha, president, Holland America Line. “Our company was founded in Rotterdam around the mission of helping immigrants find a better life. So today we’re proud to be a small part of a similar mission for Ukrainians who have tragically been displaced.”


Under the agreement to charter Volendam, Holland America Line will provide three hot meals per day, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities. Volendam will be staffed with approximately 650 crew members.

“We are known for our service and hospitality, and our team is ready to welcome our new guests as we would welcome guests into our own home,” said Captain Ryan Whitaker. “It will truly be an honor for us to make Volendam a comfortable and caring environment for these families who have been through so much.”

Volendam was scheduled to return to service May 15, with voyages from Rotterdam to Norway, the British Isles and Iceland. To accommodate the three-month commitment, Holland America Line will cancel three of those voyages and resume service on July 3 instead. Guests on canceled cruises are being notified today and will be accommodated on similar itineraries.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause to guests booked on the three canceled cruises,” Antorcha said. “We hope they understand the unprecedented nature of this situation and why we felt it was important to work with the government on this initiative in support of these families in need.”

Volendam will be docked at Merwehaven, a cargo port on the north side of the River Maas in Rotterdam. Remaining docked will ensure Ukrainian families can transit easily to and from services in Rotterdam.


Holland America Group has already been working with its own team members who are Ukrainian. A $1 million emergency assistance fund provides direct financial support. Team members from the region also receive counseling assistance, free internet service to communicate with family, and scheduling accommodations such as early disembarkation or an extension to remain on board as needed.


The family foundation of parent company Carnival Corporation’s chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine also announced a pledge of $3 million to charities helping Ukrainian refugees. In addition, Holland America Line will look to raise awareness and funds through its On Deck for a Cause program, in which guests on every cruise may take part in a non-competitive 5K fundraising walk. The money raised will go to Direct Relief.

“We stand for peace and our hearts go out to everyone whose lives have been upended by the invasion of Ukraine,” said Arnold Donald, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation & plc. “We have crew members from 145 countries and we sail with guests from nations around the globe, so we feel deeply the impact of this humanitarian crisis and we join many others in supporting relief efforts.”

20 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 6) … Day 5 without guests.

This morning we returned to Puerto Vallarta after the Chief Engineer did all the things he had to do during the night and we were docked again by 09.00 hrs. We will now stay alongside until “further notice” as they call it. The Europa arrived this morning and the Norwegian Joy is still on the schedule for sometime late this afternoon.. We are now also expecting the Eurodam and the Westerdam but when is not certain yet as the Eurodam is approaching at slow speed, I think they are travelling on one pod and the Westerdam is still far away. The Oosterdam is still at anchor at Cabo San Lucas. (Have a look at this website, https://www.cruisemapper.com/, it gives the locations of all the cruise ships. Our thoughts are at the moment with the Maasdam and the Zaandam as they have challenges with landing their guests as most countries are now in lock down and are only letting their own citizens back in. And thus the office is now hard at work to find for these ships a port where the guests can still reach an airport for their final repatriation.   Continue reading

19 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 6) … Day 4 without guests.

Another dry and sunny day in Puerto Vallarta and we are still happy alongside the dock. Looking ashore it does not look that the town is overly concerned about what is going on in the rest of the world as there are no cases here, nor any in the direct area. There is some reduction in traffic which has mostly to do I think with the slowdown in Holiday Makers in the area. With the USA in lockdown, people on vacation go home but no new people are coming out. But life goes on while we all keep adapting to the changing circumstances. Change will continue as everybody is in the process of fine tuning with what they can do. It is a bit as if we re-inventing the wheel. Once the realization is there that there is a wheel, then the first version is square, then it becomes round, then somebody puts hard rubber around it, then the air tire comes along and slowly buts steadily the perfect wheel emerges and is put in use. To stay with this metaphor I think we are just in the phase from the square wheel to the round wheel. Continue reading

25 June 2019; Narvik, Norway.

Last night we sailed through the Inside Passage from Tromso to Narvik. There is an outside but the inside passage is shorter, more sheltered and much more scenic. About 3 hrs. down from Tromso the ship has to go under a bridge and for that you have to be the size of the Prinsendam or smaller. So the big boys have to go back outside if they would have wanted to go to Narvik. That is not often the case and it is also not that often the case with other cruise ships. This because Narvik is not really a cruise port and that is the reason why Yours Truly has not been there either. Nor my Lord and Master, and she has been out there for a long time as well on (really) small ships and she did not make it here either. But the ms Prinsendam is the Elegant Explorer and keeps going to ports to offer the guests something different, even if it is not the wildest thing in life. I am happy as I put another “dot” on my world map at home. Continue reading

22 March 2019: At Sea, 2nd day.

With the sedate speed of 15 knots are we sailing through the Caribbean Sea. The weather is following the weather forecast and that is appreciated by everybody. We expect that the Trade Wind will start to re-establish itself this evening and through out the night and with it the swell. But by tomorrow morning 05.30 we will be slipping inside the entrance of Boca Chica, the large inland water area where at the far North East the port of Cartagena is located. As explained in previous blogs, it takes about 90 minutes from pilot to gangway out and thus the captain is aiming to have the pilot on board at 05.30 hrs.  The ships average speed has been set up for this as arriving earlier has not much use. If we put the pedal to the metal we could be there my midnight but what then. Continue reading

Captain’s Log: Donation at Port of Spain, Trinidad

On December 30th, the Prinsendam made a large donation of curtains and diapers to the local rotary club of Port of Spain, Trinidad. This was a follow up to our previous donation in Manaus, Brazil on December 12th. The local rotary club (oldest established club in Port of Spain being 54 years old) will take care of further distribution.

Here is a picture of members of housekeeping and store room department offloading the boxes. Photo by Mike Willock, Prinsendam’s human resources manager.

Captain Albert is Prinsendam’s master.

Captain’s Log: A Major Donation in Manaus, Brazil

On December 10, the crew of the ms Prinsendam donated over 40 boxes with pillows, bedspreads, curtains, personal clothing, housekeeping items and medical materials to two good causes in Manaus. Our first donation took place in March of this year, when we donated bathrobes and children’s clothing. That was followed by our most recent donation that grew into an excess of 40 boxes.

In the past month, Holland America Line has been upgrading the ms Prinsendam’s guests cabins with soft goods. As we were going up the Amazon during that same period, we were able to donate the replaced items to these good causes. All of the items went to the children’s home of Lar Batista Janelle Doyle (wwww.larbastistamanaus.com.br) and a retirement home called Fundacao de Apoio ao Idoso Dr.Thomas, two well-known organizations in Manaus.

Hotel Manager Francois Briarda, myself, Human Resources Manager Mike Willock and the representatives from the children’s home.

Continue reading

Captain’s Log: A Special Donation in Barcelona

As part of the continuous upgrade of the Prinsendam, the ship received 320 new cabin chairs during the call at Barcelona on 15 November 2010. The new chairs have a slightly higher back but most importantly are more fire retardant. Chief Officer Ryan Whitaker, in charge of interior maintenance, asked the agent in Barcelona whether a charity would be willing to take the 320 old chairs coming of the ship, which were still in good condition.

The charity that responded was La Nau, which specializes in collecting non-food materials for the socially excluded. Items obtained are cleaned and repaired and then forwarded to welfare organizations. Thus retirement homes, orphanages, night shelters, etc., will now all benefit from our gift. As can be seen from the photos, Housekeeping and the Deck dept. set up a system whereby the old chairs were removed from the cabins and unloaded in the morning and the new chairs loaded and brought to the cabins. Before departure all guests had a new chair to sit on. The carton was recycled on the dockside at the same time and thus did not have to come on board.

At Barcelona, Spain.

Albert Schoonderbeek is master of Prinsendam.

Captain’s Log: Maritime Academy Donation

During the January 2010 dry dock, the ms Prinsendam received a new GMDSS system (emergency telecommunication system for the bridge) and a new steering system, gyro compass and auto pilot. Normally, the old systems are recycled for scrap. As the Prinsendam would be calling at Vlissingen, the Netherlands, during the summer season, the idea came up to donate these items to the local Maritime Academy.

During the next six months the bridge team collected and kept all the old charts, nautical books and other related items that would be of use for nautical students. On 20 July 2010, the ms Prinsendam visited Vlissingen and all that was collected was handed over to the lecturers of the Maritime Academy.

Recycle team, from left: S.E.H. Officer Willem van Woerkom, for environmental and compliance; 2nd Officer Navigation Simon Allcock; 1st Officer Joris Poriau, a graduate from the Maritime Academy Michiel de Ruyter of Vlissingen, and 4th Officer Adam Gardner, assistant navigation officer.