- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: HAL History (page 2 of 5)

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

30 July 2020; Rotterdam VII

I normally do not post during my leave but I am making an exception as what was announced today is very important for the company but also goes right to the core of my belief that strong roots make it easier to go forward. Hence a small blog  with the news, although, no doubt, the news will come from everywhere tomorrow.

Holland America has made the decision to rename our newest ship the ms Ryndam  still under construction, to ms Rotterdam. Thus the Ryndam (IV) as was originally the plan, is now becoming the Rotterdam (VII).  And this is possible as the Rotterdam VI is leaving our fleet.  I am not that easily excited about what is normally announced but this is special. The name Rotterdam, after our homeport the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, has been in our fleet for nearly our whole history.

Rotterdam I  1871 – 1883

The ss Rotterdam I.






Rotterdam II 1886 – 1895 (she was later renamed to Edam when the next Rotterdam came into service)

The ss Rotterdam II






Rotterdam III 1897 –  1906

The ss Rotterdam III






Rotterdam IV 1908 – 1940

The ss Rotterdam IV






Now we get a gap due to the war and the flagship of the fleet became the ss Nieuw Amsterdam (II). But there were tentative plans for a sistership and if the war had not happened that sistership might have been built and guess what the name would have been ??? !!! After WWII the company needed time to rebuilt the fleet and also had to deal with the inroads of the airplane on the North Atlantic routes. Hence it took until 1959 before there was a new Rotterdam. A multiple ship as she was a Traditional North Atlantic Liner but at the same time a modern cruise ship who could change roles, just by opening a few doors. And thus ready for extensive cruising during the off-season in the early years and later permanently.

Rotterdam V 1959 – 1997  (she is still there as a great Hotel in Rotterdam)

The ss Rotterdam V






Rotterdam VI 1997 – 2020

The ms Rotterdam VI






Rotterdam VI 2021 and onwards

The ms Rotterdam VII






As you can see from the list above it is also not the first time that we renamed a ship in relation to having the Rotterdam name available for the newest ship of the fleet.

See below the press release of this morning 30 July 2020 which can also be found on the regular Holland America Line blog.

What might be of interest, if you have an facebook account, our Brand Ambassador Seth thought it was a good idea to get me involved in this whole naming business.


Hopefully we will be able to get the ships out of the warm lay up, not too far in the future and I can start blogging again.

Best regards

Captain Albert

Today’s Press Release:

In honor of some of the most memorable ships in Holland America Line’s nearly 150-year history, the premium cruise line is changing the name of its newbuild from Ryndam to Rotterdam and designating it the new flagship of the fleet. The seventh ship to bear this historic name, Rotterdam will be delivered one year to the date on July 30, 2021, pushed back slightly from its original delivery of May 2021 due to the global health situation.

When Rotterdam is delivered from Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, it will spend the summer exploring Northern Europe and the Baltic on roundtrip cruises from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Guests and travel advisors with clients who were booked on the ship’s Premiere Voyage in May and itineraries through July 30 are being contacted with rebooking options.

“The first ship for Holland America Line was the original Rotterdam, the company was headquartered in the city of Rotterdam for many years, and the name has been a hallmark throughout our history since 1872 … so clearly the name is powerful and symbolic,” said Gus Antorcha, Holland America Line’s president. “With the current Rotterdam leaving the company, we knew we had a unique opportunity to embrace the name as our new flagship and carry on the tradition of having a Rotterdam in our fleet. Seven is a lucky number, and we know she’s going to bring a lot of joy to our guests as she travels across the globe.”

The History of the Name Rotterdam
Holland America Line’s first ship was Rotterdam, which sailed its maiden voyage from the Netherlands to New York Oct. 15, 1872, and led to the founding of the company on April 18, 1873. Rotterdam II was built in 1878 for British Ship Owners Co. and purchased by Holland America Line in 1886. Rotterdam III came along in 1897 and was with the company until 1906. The fourth Rotterdam joined the fleet in 1908 and also served as a troop carrier when World War I ended. Following the war it made regular cruises from New York to the Mediterranean.

Rotterdam V, also known as “The Grande Dame,” set sail in 1959 and began sailing transatlantic crossings with two classes of service. It later converted to a one-class ship in 1969. She sailed with Holland America Line for 38 years until 1997, including several Grand World Voyages, and currently is a hotel and museum in the city of Rotterdam. Rotterdam VI, the most recent to cruise for Holland America Line, was introduced in 1997 and the first ship in the R Class.

Inaugural Season to Explore Mediterranean, Baltic and Norway
Cruising aboard Rotterdam VII begins Aug. 1 with the ship’s seven-day Premiere Voyage departing from Trieste, Italy, to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, with port calls throughout the Adriatic Sea and southern Italy. The ship sails Aug. 8 from Civitavecchia on a 14-day cruise through the western Mediterranean and on to Amsterdam.

From Aug. 22 through Oct. 10, the ship will sail roundtrip from Amsterdam on three seven-day itineraries to Norway, one 14-day to the Baltic and one 14-day to Norway, Iceland and the British Isles. A trans-Atlantic completes the inaugural Europe season with a 14-day voyage from Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

To accommodate guests booked on cancelled itineraries of Ryndam from May through July, Nieuw Statendam cruise itineraries also will see some changes to match up as much as possible with former Ryndam sailings.

“Guests and travel advisors will be notified today of this news and coming changes to current itineraries,” added Antorcha. “We ask everyone, though, to please bear with us just a few weeks for all of the details as we rebuild itineraries and put the finishing touches on several desirable alternatives. We will follow up with specific details very soon so everyone knows their options.”

Guests booked on the originally scheduled Premiere Voyage will be rebooked on the Premier Sailing for Rotterdam, departing August 1, and will receive a $100 per person shipboard credit. All other guests who were booked on impacted Ryndam or Nieuw Statendam cruises will be automatically rebooked to a similar future cruise date during the summer at the same fare paid. Guests will receive a $100 per person shipboard credit for cruises 10 days or less and $250 per person for itineraries of 12 days or more. Guests are asked to wait until they receive updated booking confirmations in the next several weeks before contacting Holland America Line for additional changes to the booking.


22 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 8) … Day 7 without guests.

Another good day in Puerto Vallarta. Although we are marooned on the ship as we cannot go ashore, we are still much better off than other people in the world and thus you will not hear any complaints from us on board. Yesterday was Saturday so no doubt a lot of Holiday Makers will have gone home and I do not think that new holiday makers will come out.  But many Mexicans might still be on the way home so the planes are still flying. 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

14 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

We live in a dynamic world and the moment we think all is going (relatively) well, the next thing happens. Last night I had barely posted my daily blog and the message from Stein Kruse came in that the whole fleet was going into a voluntarily lockdown for 30 days at the end of the current cruise. That means that our Noordam and Veendam are already out of service and that other ships are following step by step, when their cruise comes to an end. We, the ms Rotterdam are the exception, for the length of time we will still sail, due to the fact that we are making a Panama Canal cruise and we have to get to the other side. So the plan at the moment is to continue the cruise as scheduled and take it day by day, to see what the Virus is doing, to see what the Medical Profession is advising and to see how the politicians are reacting to it. Luckily the ms Rotterdam is safe and healthy and that is the most important thing. Our crew is sanitizing so much that “the paint is coming off the walls” and nobody has any symptoms or feels ill. Continue reading

08 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

By 06.30 we entered the Bahia de Banderas at which inner end Puerto Vallarta is located. Being located at the end of the bay is really very nice, as the town thus misses the brunt of the storms that come by during the hurricane season. Only, on the rare occasion that a hurricane turns into the bay, is there a real problem but that is seldom.  In the good old days Puerto Vallarta was a sleepy fishing village frequented by celebrities and made famous by some movies. It is understandable that famous people liked this place as it is not as hot, hot in as further south and if you still find it too hot, you drive up the mountain and it is nice and cool. 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

22 February 2020; San Juan, Puerto Rico.

San Juan is blessed with one of the best and largest natural harbors in the Caribbean. Hence the very apt name, Puerto Rico = Rich port. The Spanish were quite quick to realize its potential and built very quickly a large fortress – Morro Castle- at the entrance to the port / bay to keep the enemy out. They did something similar at Cartagena, a port with again a narrow entrance (Boca Chica) and a very large bay and sheltered harbor behind it.  So this morning when we sailed into San Juan we did so while sliding past the guns of the castle looming high above us. Guns so close that it would have been impossible to miss us if they would have gone off. The fortress proved so strong that neither the Dutch, nor the French, nor the British could get at it. 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

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