- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Holidays

2021 Dec. 23; Holland America press release Zuiderdam returns to service.

Zuiderdam Resumes Service from Port of San Diego; Second Ship from California and Sixth Back to Cruising

Click to Tweet: .@HALcruises’ Zuiderdam resumes #cruising from the West Coast. Ship departs San Diego Dec. 23 and will sail roundtrip through April 2022. Three additional HAL ships also to cruise from San Diego in the coming months.

Seattle, Wash., Dec 23, 2021 — Holland America Line’s Zuiderdam returned to service today from Port of San Diego in California, the second Holland America ship to resume service in San Diego since the industrywide pause.

 Zuiderdam’s crew celebrated the return in holiday spirit with sleighbells ringing and Santa and his elves on hand to open embarkation and welcome guests back on on board. Zuiderdam joins Koningsdam, which resumed service in San Diego Oct. 10. Holland America Line now has six ships cruising again in the Caribbean, Mexico and along the Pacific Coast of the United States.


Zuiderdam Hotel General Manager Colin Jacob (left with scissors) helps 7-year-old Levi Stengel cut the ribbon to welcome the first guests aboard Zuiderdam, as the ship resumes cruising after a several-month pause. Catherine Stengel, Levi’s mother, stands behind him, and Captain Frank van der Hoeven is to the right of Levi.

 “San Diego is an important homeport for us, and we are excited to have two ships back in full-time operation here with the restart of Zuiderdam today,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “We are proud to be part of the San Diego community, which has continued to show us tremendous support throughout our restart. There’s no better way to kick off Zuiderdam’s season than with a holiday cruise full of joyful guests and our grateful crew who are happy to have them back on board.”

 Zuiderdam’s first cruise is a 10-day “Mexico and Sea of Cortez” that will be followed by Panama Canal departures and a grand 35-day South Pacific sojourn and Pacific cruise. Koningsdam sails a series of seven-day cruises to the California Coast or Mexico and two longer Hawaii voyages that run through April 3, 2022. Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam each make one call at San Diego in spring 2022.


Earlier in the week on Dec. 19, while remaining alongside at San Diego’s B-Street Cruise Terminal, Zuiderdam took part in the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights with an illuminated “Ho Ho Ho” on the ship’s side to show community support.

About Holland America Line in San Diego:

Holland America Line has been homeporting from the Port of San Diego since the 1990s. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the cruise line will bring more than 81,000 guests to the city, which will result in more than $35 million in direct spending.

Operationally, each ship visit directly contributes $364,000 to the local economy in provisioning (fuel, food, flowers, piano tuning, supplies), port taxes, and spending. When Koningsdam and Zuiderdam call at San Diego, both ships will connect to shore power, reducing the ships’ carbon footprint.

Throughout the years, Holland America Line has been actively involved with more than 30 nonprofits in San Diego County through giving, shipboard lunches and cruise donations, including La Jolla Playhouse, San Ysidro Health and Girl Scouts San Diego.

For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel advisor, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.

2021 Dec. 21 Happy Holidays

Dear Readers

My blog is still in limbo as far as daily posts are concerned as I am still at home. I have not been able to obtain an L visa from the USA embassy in London yet as they are on reduced capacity and HAL Marine operation is also not ready to let me start hopping  from ship to ship again.

The fleet is slowly getting back on it’s fleet. The next ship Zuiderdam is due to depart for her first cruise on December 23 from San Diego to the Mexican Riviera.

By that date we will have:

Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Nieuw Statendam, Rotterdam and Zuiderdam back in operation.

Which leaves Zaandam, Volendam, Oosterdam and Noordam and Westerdam still on standby.  Those are scheduled to come back in service in 2023. Please see www.HollandAmerica.com for the planned cruises.

So while I am still at home. much concentration is on the Holland America hobby side.

I have added  the biography of Commodore Bijl to the site. See under Captains of the past tab which might make for some interesting reading.

Then I am also starting to gear up for 2023 when the company will celebrate its 150 years of going strong. Several books are in the pipe line and more news about that in January when the draft cover designs have been made.

In the mean time I am wishing everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy and also Healthy 2022.  Times might be difficult but no doubt there is a light at the end of every tunnel.

13 December 2019; Cozumel Mexico.

Cozumel is a favourite port for the 7 day Mass market ships and thus we had The Carnival Glory, The Liberty of the Seas and the Anthem of the Seas in port today. (I think this is at the moment the largest cruise ship in the world) This as the port fits right in the triangle, Miami, Grand Cayman and Labadee /Haiti (for RCI). We call here as it gives another port when we alternate our cruises. But it is hard to get here for an early morning arrival and hence we docked at 11 am. Ships that go the other way, normally spend a day at sea while sailing towards  Grand Cayman or  have a late morning arrival there in the same way as in Cozumel.  Most ships stay in Cozumel until 23.00 hrs.  Holland America tries as a standard to have one evening call in port during a cruise but that does not always work out, if there is nothing to do in the port after 18.00 hrs. Cozumel is blessed with an exciting night life as long as you think in the terms of Carlos & Charlie’s, Senor Frogs and you want to brush up on your Conga Line Dancing. Which is normally not a problem after consuming a bucket of beer, or one of their special Margaritas Continue reading

12 Dec. 2016; Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras.

We were the only ship docking at the Mahogany Bay Pier today, courtesy of the fact that this dock was constructed by Carnival Corporation. Therefore our poor competitors, in this case RCI, had to do with docking at Coxen Hole a little bit more to the west. There is another cruise terminal but with some fewer facilities on the dock for guests who do not want to go too far. And a lot of guests had one look at the weather: dark clouds gathering overhead causing the occasional downpour and decided to stay on board or were back quite quickly. Main reason was they had already been here before, so why get wet during a repeat visit? We have a larger number of guests on board who are just taking a “quick Holland America cruise” in between. They are here for the ship and the service and could “not care less about the coconuts” as one guest expressed his reason to stay on board.

Hence the High Tea was having a full house and all the bridge tables were occupied as well. Always nice to see the public rooms being in use at other times than just when there is entertainment or happy hour.

Apart from all the activities on board, Holland America has also made it a standard of its product of giving the guests something to look at. All the ships have a lot of antiques on board which can bring many hours of happy hunting and observing if you are so inclined to do so. With the Koningsdam what is on display is more contemporary but that is not bad for a change either.

So as part of my hobby (and hopefully for posterity as well) I photograph & document the complete interiors of all the ships; as one day also the Oosterdam will also be gone. Not all the art is on display where all the guests can get at it, some is hidden in the private offices on board. So today a few pieces of art to look at, which are hidden on deck 1 in the Hotel Offices. Senior hotel staff offices are gathered near the Atrium where we have on the portside the Security Officers Office, IT office, the Front Office (with inside the Pursers office) and the Cruise Directors office.

Dutch Harbour by Heinrich Hermanns

Boats in a Harbour by Heinrich Hermanns

From all those offices the Cruise Director has the nicest piece of art hanging on the wall. Made by a German painter Heinrich Hermanns who lived from 1862 to 1942 and the painting is called Boats in a Harbour.  Normally I am very critical of paintings with ships but this is a nice atmospheric piece. Sailors always look at shippy paintings with the eye……………… is it correct. And you can only let that go if there are no real details on it. One of the painters who is always very in depth and scrutinized by us, is the maritime painter Captain Stephen Card as we have his paintings hanging on each of our ships, mostly in the forward staircase. Luckily he is a sailor himself who carefully documents first what he is going to paint because if he gets it wrong, the old Holland America line employees are very vocal.

Nicholas Berthon. Dutch Harbour.

Nicholas Berthon. Dutch Harbour.

On starboard side we have the Controller’s office, shore excursion, Beverage department, Culinary Department, Hotel Directors Office and the Executive Housekeepers office.  The 2nd painting of my liking is hanging in the Executive Housekeepers office. Again a painting with a ship on it, this time by Nicholas Berthon 1839 – 1888 and called Dutch Harbor. Looking at the name it sounds like he is a French painter and this is the first time I see this name coming up in connection to something with boats.  Knowing how my company sources Art and also how much budget there is, plus the need to keep the art from “walking away” the price for these sorts of paintings lays normally in the area of 800 to 1500 dollars. Good enough quality to have on board for guests to enjoy, not expensive enough for somebody to be tempted to embrace it as a permanent souvenir.

Not a painting but also art. A Christmas Village by the Oosterdam Culinary Department.

Not a painting but also art. A Christmas Village by the Oosterdam Culinary Department.

What I have forgotten to mention is that Christmas has fully arrived on the Oosterdam. During last cruise the decorations started to come out and by now everything is in place. Including the Christmas village in the Atrium. We have now Christmas Music played through the ship and to my utter amazement I have not heard White Christmas from Bing Crosby yet. All the other songs have all come by already including the missing two-front-teeth.

Tomorrow we are in Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala which lays 142 miles to the west from here. And that means I am not going to predict the weather, as it might be the same as today; but it might just change as well, depending what pressure system wins the battle. The one to the south, the one to the north, or the one to the East.