- Captain Albert's Website and Blog -

Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

Photo gallery: Faces of the Engine Department.

The members of the engine department are not very often in the spot light. Most of the time the guests on board will only notice them when their toilet does not flush, the air conditioning has a hic-up or the ship arrives late when not making enough speed. However these un-sung heroes are vitally important in delivering the basic services without which we can not even start to enjoy a cruise.


The left photo shows the ships plumbers working on yet another toilet blockage. Modern cruise ships are equipped with a vacuum toilet system. It is efficient and conserves a lot of water. However it’s proper functioning relies on the guests only putting down the toilet what really should go there. Signs in the bathroom not withstanding, still things (we call them foreign objects) go down there that shouldn’t. To remove the blockage the section pipe has to be openend and while that is being done a whole section of the ship is without toilet facilities. Nothing the plumbers can do about that, they are on call 24 hours a day but they still get the blame……….. when the toilet does not flush……………..

The middle photo shows the ships machinists repairing a piece of technical equipment. Although a ship carries many spare parts, the big steel parts have to be repaired or made new when they break. For that prupose each ship has three or four machinests on board and a complete engine workshop.

The right photo shows a ships machinist at a welding job. Apart from static welding machines in the engine workshop, the ship also has mobile welding equipment to carry out repairs locally.


Apart from repairs there is also regular maintenance going on. Seven days a week 24 hours a day. On the left photo we see one of the ships boilers under maintenance. The middle photo shows an engineer working on the top of a engine cylinder on one of the main engines. The photo to the right shows a wiper painting a double bottom tank in the side of the ship. Some of the tanks are used for storing potable water, some for fuel oil and some are empty tanks, called void spaces, these seperate one sort of tank from the other. All tank walls have to be re-painted regularly to keep them in a good condition.


  1. Certainly an unsung bunch, those engine room people. Nice to see you paying homage to them. The site as a whole is very enjoyable. Thanks,


  2. Robert Oloman

    July 25, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    In earlier days, interested guests (a very small contingent) could apply to the ship’s Chief Engineer for permission to tour the engine and boiler rooms. For me, this was always a highlight of the cruise, first experienced on the SS Volendam (formerly Brasilia) and then aboard the magnificent flagship of the Line, the SS Rotterdam. The Engineers were proud to show and explain the operation of their machinery from bow-thrusters to propeller shafts.
    It provided an opportunity for some of us to thank the Engineering Crew for their work, behind the scenes, in keeping it all going.

  3. Hello,

    We have been on 4 cruses with HAL, but never been able to tour teh innards of teh ship. How do I go about this for our next cruse?


  4. hallo kapitein schoonderbeek onlangs heb ik van de zeevaartschool het groene licht gekregen, zodra ik door de keuring ben kan ik de opleiding Maroff volgen en naderhand wil ik stage varen bij de Holland Amerika Lijn niet slecht toch voor iemand die in een rolstoel zat was stuurman rijnvaart wilde verdervoor kapitein maar raakte eenzijdigverlamd door een beroerte het herstel gaat langzaam maar gestaag en zal door de keuring komen en varen als maroff daar geloof ik heilig in hartelijke groet
    “captain stan”
    Staney Renon Zeekadetofficier Public Relations zkkrotterdam.nl/unifilveteraan

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