- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: ms Eurodam

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

24 March – 10 April 2020; Panama to Fort Lauderdale.

So I am back on the blog. A blog which I had to stop as things were getting too confused and fast moving for me to relate correctly and with sufficient authority. If you look at the last blogs, I had mentioned already a few times that the company was moving faster than I could record it. Then throw the world stage, with all its politics into the mix, and I did not know any more if I was coming or going. So we stopped.

On 09 April the last guests left the ship, and then ship went into warm lay-up. Healthy guests but a few guests remained on board who could not leave as they could not get home for all the reasons that went with the current situation. Things on board are now returning to a sort of normal, albeit a new normal.

This blog is a compilation of the past period as seen through the eyes of yours truly and as I am not involved in politics (*) there is no opinion about why something happened, just what happened and how the ships made it work.

(*) Maybe Captains should all run for office, each in their respective country, I am absolutely convinced the world would have less issues. Continue reading

24 June 2019; Tromso, Norway.

Today we are in Tromso docking at the regular cruise terminal from which we can see the town next to us and also the outer part of the town opposite the river. That part has the famous Arctic Cathedral (Domkirk in the local language) and is claimed to be the most northern one in the world.

Tromso Cathedral all lit up for the festive season. (Photo courtesy https://www.ishavskatedralen.no/en/the-arctic-cathedral/)

It does dominate the landscape, something that a church normally does but in this case with its modern design even more. Tromso is split up into two parts and they have a modern bridge to connect the two sides. A high bridge so that coastal ships still can go under it. As a result it is not so easy to just walk from one side to the other side as the bridge span is long and drawn out. Hence to see the cathedral you need to take a taxi or go on a tour. Because of the inclement weather (four seasons in the hour, except snow) I decided to stay on board having seen the place in the ancient past. Sun, wind and rain changed the weather by the hour and that made it a challenging day to be a tourist. Continue reading

24 Feb. 2017; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

This time the weather forecast followed the forecasted schedule and we got exactly what was expected. Based on that, the captain could also decide to make the call and stay for the day. When we arrived things were pretty miserable with strong winds from the South West and a lot of rain around us. During the night the winds had been very strong here and thus the waves were still quite high. But shortly after 8 am. the rain was gone and the winds slowly started to abate. Making it possible for the shore tenders to come alongside and start ferrying the guests over to the Island. With a bit of a bumpy ride, but a very short bumpy ride.

The winds will continue to die down during the coming night and on arrival Fort Lauderdale it is supposed to be nearly wind still. So by next cruise the ship might be on a 3 day cycle which will help us dodge the strong a wind days in port. We will see, or better said the ship will see, as I will not be there.

I am transferring tomorrow to the Zuiderdam until March 19 and then hope to return to the Eurodam to continue my work here. The Zuiderdam has asked me to come over and help out with preparing for an inspection and as “higher up” thought that was a good idea, there I go. So tomorrow I will walk off the gangway, turn right cross the road and will walk straight up the Zuiderdam gangway. (After of course having successfully navigating security)

The Zuiderdam is on berth 21 and we are at the usual Holland America Line berth at 26. These berths get assigned by the harbor master office and if there are only a few ships in, then it is an easy gig. They all go to their own terminal and the only thing the harbor master has to do is to decide the entry sequence in such a way that it makes it as easy as possible for the pilots and captains to bring the ships in. Some – times that requires for a ship to arrive earlier than the captain had intended but so be it.

The lay out of the port of Port Everglades.

The lay out of the port of Port Everglades. Berths 7 to 15 are normally tanker docks and anything higher than 26 is normally for cargo ships and tugboats.  29 is also a cruise terminal but only used when it is very busy.

It gets more complicated when we have 6, 7 or 8 cruise ships in. Then ships are sometimes moved to other berths, depending on their size.  With ships the size of the Oasis class, there is only one berth (nbr. 18, 17, 16) which can handle them and thus the whole setup has to be worked around them.  Also a Carnival ship takes up 2 berths, 19 and 20 and if they want to have that berth then they have to come in before an Oasis Class and before a ship scheduled for 21. Once in, then it is very difficult to get out again as nbrs. 18 and 21 take up a lot of space from the middle docking basin. Princess is normally on 6, 5, and 4 and will always have one ship there. Then that leaves the rest. Holland America has medium sized ships compared to the big boys and thus we are sometimes moved to the other berths. 21, 22, 24, 25. Tomorrow there are only five and as a result the puzzle was solved as follows:

Ship                                                       Pilot                       Berth

Harmony of the Seas                      05.00 hrs.             18 portside alongside. (Biggest cruise ship in the world)

Eurodam                                              05.30 hrs.             26 Starboard

Caribbean Princess                          05.45 hrs.             02 Starboard

Zuiderdam                                          06.00 hrs.             21 portside (Smallest cruise ship in port)

Independence of the Seas          06.15 hrs.             25 portside

As you can see all ships are fairly early and that has to do with the fact that they all want to have the gangway out by 07.00 hrs. when CBP and Longshoremen are starting their regular day.

Thus tomorrow the Eurodam will finish her cruise at 07.00 hrs. and start embarkation at 11.30 hrs. for the next cruise. This will be a sort of “around Cuba” cruise, sailing via Half Moon Cay and then down to Grand Cayman and Cozumel.  The Zuiderdam will also call at Half Moon Cay at the same day but then dive into the south Caribbean to visit Oranjestad as their next port. I will let you know in the coming days how they will “dive south”.

23 Feb. 2017; At sea.

Today we are sailing back towards Florida and are on our way to Half Moon Cay our own private island. We are taking the outside route again, aiming for the North side of the Bahamian Islands. Then at the last minute we will dive inside and sail along Cat Island towards Half Moon Cay. That is not really the islands name; it is officially Little San Salvador, as it is a smaller version of San Salvador Island which lays more to the North East. San Salvador Island is supposedly the island were Columbus discovered the new world. I say supposedly as there are several other islands which lay the same claim to the same fame.  And nobody really knows the truth. Columbus did land somewhere in the area in 1492 and did discover the new world although he thought he was in India. He only later found out that he was not there but had stumbled into a new piece of Real Estate and nobody really understood what it was.

That honor came to a gentleman called Amerigo Vespucci, he figured out that this newly discovered land was not part of the Far East but something separate and as a result the Americas are now named after him and not after Columbus.  Maybe not fair but then the Vikings were there way before Columbus and maybe it should have been called Erickson land. On the west side the Chinese came to the Vancouver area before 1492 and thus the land should have been named after the Chinese admiral who led the (large fleet) that got there. But as is the case most of the time, the guy who is the best in public relations gets most of the credit. As Amerigo was also a cartographer he could put any name on new land and thus put his own onto it.

The chance we still find new land, even if it is only a reef, is very remote as with satellite cameras and with google world Omni present, each piece of land has been well photographed. There are still new names given to certain features; it is a tradition to give long serving Environmentalists and scientists who work in Antarctica the name of a glacier. There are still plenty out there without a name so no scientist has to despair for the time being. Although the question is, with the current warming up of the earth, if there will be enough left in the future to continue this tradition.

For sailors the only real option left to have something named after him or her is to find a reef or something similar. That can be done by running onto it (not appreciated by the boat owner normally) or to try and get it officially approved by the Cartography industry such as the NOAA.  I have been told, anecdotally, that the rock which Capt. Schettino found while sailing passed Isla Giglio is now named by the locals after him. Probably the result of so many tourists asking the locals were it exactly is and how to get there to take a selfie. I do not think that I would want to get immortalized that way.

As it is now so long ago I can tell a little story: I tried it myself a long time ago. Not to run aground but to get my name on the chart. In 1986 when I was 3rd officer on the ss Rotterdam, I saw in the chart a rock which was called the Api Rock, in an area called Red Wood Bay north of Cape Decision. My nick name in those days, a Dutch short cut for Albert was Appie, so here was my chance. I submitted to the NOAA a request for a spelling correction Api to Appi and waited to see what would happen. A friend of mine in the USCG kept an eye on its progress as he thought it was quite funny. Well it made it through the first review and I kept my fingers crossed. Then there was somewhere a cleaver clog who checked it out and it did not make it to the approval for the next chart issue. As a matter of fact, the name Api Rock disappeared for a time completely from the chart.  I do not know who or what Api was but that was not the idea either.

Tomorrow the captain is not going to try to get a reef named after him, as a matter of fact we are not going to anchor at all but stay on the engines to avoid that chance. We were supposed to have Easterly winds which would have kept the ship behind the anchor; but we have a new cold front coming through from the North West and that means if we would anchor, the ship would drift onto the beach. By staying on the engines we can make a good lee for the shore tenders and stay nicely in deep water. The first tenders will come alongside and start ferrying the guests ashore by 08.00 hrs.  So the weather is going to be a mixed bag; windy but later subsiding, dry with a chance of a shower during the day.

22 Feb. 2017; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

Today we are in Charlotte Amalie in the natural harbor they call Havensight. So good and so sheltered that in the good old days the pirates sought a safe haven here. Nowadays there are two cruise ship docking locations. The one here at Haven sight , which can handle four medium size ships or 3 big ones, and Crown Bay which can handle two medium to large ships or four very small ones. Crown Bay was an addition in the late 80’s and was originally known as the Submarine Base where the US Navy had a station. When they moved the docking area was redeveloped with the help of Carnival money to create an over flow dock incase downtown = Havensight was full. In the beginning it meant that the Holland America ships went there and the Carnival ships remained at Havensight. Then we were joined by the Princess ships. Now we are going the other way again as the Mega Liners from RCI are directed to this dock. Such as the Oasis and Allure of the Seas.

Havensight under reconstruction. Please not how long the spring is. Only one bollard left to use.

Havensight under reconstruction. Please note how long the spring is. Only one bollard left to use.

As a result the ms Eurodam docked at Havensight nbr 1. All the way in the corner. Behind us was one other ship, the Norwegian Gem which had been with us yesterday in San Juan as well.  What happened to the 3rd one I do not know but if it had been known there were only two ships in, then we could have docked more to the middle and that would have been a lot easier. I already mentioned in my blog in December, when on board the Oosterdam, that the pier section in this area is under repair and it still is. The mess is just less big than last year. The whole pier is been restructured and new and stronger bollards are being installed plus new fenders. Very good for all of us but at the moment the ships are docking in a building site with only a little bit of space left for the gangway. And as most of the old bollards are gone there are not many left to put the mooring lines on.

Where once the Pink Hotel was and to the left, where the blue canopied boat is, used to be a very nice Bar.

Where once the Pink Hotel was and to the left, where the blue canopied boat is, used to be a very nice Bar.

I remember docking here in the 80’s with the old Statendam which had a draft that allowed it to be put all the way forward and later did the same with the N ships. This berth was always more shallower than the other berths and thus a selection was made on draft. Our old Rotterdam had 32 feet of draft at the stern and had to dock in the middle or near the end of the pier. There was not always space as larger ships – more passengers – would be given preference and thus we had to anchor very often in the bay. The good thing about that was that the guests were taken directly to downtown by ships tender, the bad thing was you had to wait for a tender to go and to return.

A nostalgic view of the late 1980's. The ss Rotterdam docked behind a Carnival Holiday class ship.

A nostalgic view of the late 1980’s. The ss Rotterdam docked behind a Carnival Holiday class ship.

When we could dock, the draft still caused a problem, which the captain solved by giving the ship a list of 1 or 2 degrees so the draft on the high side was 3 feet less and then we would winch the ship against and sometimes a little bit up the sand bank until the gangway could reach the dock. On departure we gave slack on the lines and the ship then slid back into deep enough water. You just had to make sure to arrive on lower water than what you had on departure. If that option was not possible then we had to rig up a long gangway, which we did not like as it was very narrow and tended to sag.

Is it a new Bar Restaurant. It looked closed and no details could be seen from the Eurodam bridge

Is it a new Bar Restaurant ??. It looked closed and no details could be seen from the Eurodam bridge

The whole area has now been developed and the old pink hotel has gone, being replaced with more shops and also the old Bar & Restaurant on the end of one of the Marina Piers is also gone and replaced with new docks. That Bar was in the 1980’s a real meeting place for yacht and passenger ship crews as it was for everybody in walking distance, sometimes crawling distance, to the yachts or cruise ships. The ships now have Alcohol policies and St Thomas Real Estate policies so the Bar is no longer there. It looks that they have built something new, a sort of octagonal Dove Cote, but it looked very closed so I could not know yet if it is going to be a shopping hut or if it will be a Bar and Restaurant. It does have a perfect location.

St. Thomas is the furthest point we go on this cruise and now we will sail North West again, retracing our route and then call at Half Moon Cay the day after tomorrow.

The weather prediction of yesterday came partly out. The wind did turn but earlier than expected. It did so at 09.00 and Charlotte Amalie got a downpour straight away. But then it was sunny for the remainder of the day. Going back we will have the Trade Wind behind us and that will be good for Half Moon Cay, where you need Easterly wind to have a swell free beach. If we had gone to Half Moon Cay on the first day of the cruise, we would most likely have had to cancel as the swell and wind would have rolled directly into the Bay. But things look good this time.

21 Feb. 2017; San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The frontal system turned out to be quite strong and while sailing towards San Juan we had a very strong breeze blowing from the North West. Exactly in the same direction as the ship which was travelling along at 19 knots, while the wind was making 21 knots. Giving us a nice light air on the ship of three knots. As a result it was extremely pleasant on deck and the guests were out in force.  With the north westerly wind my prediction also came out that it would be dry and although there were lots of clouds in the area it remained sunny. Still a north westerly wind is not bad if you go ashore in San Juan. Most of the streets are shielded from the Trade Wind which nearly always blows and which can make it very hot and humid in the old town. The north westerly wind blows a bit more through the streets making it a bit more airy. An excellent day to walk on top of the old fort, Morro Castle, which guards the entrance to the port.

San Juan always had a deep water and sheltered bay which curved in a sort of Boomerang shape around an Island upon which the Spanish built a Fortress, Morro Castle which we can still see today.  On board I found a temporary drawing / water color of how it looked in the original days.

The bay of Porto Rico. The ships now dock at the first indentation at the lower side of the island and nearly all the other water areas have been dammed in.

The bay of Porto Rico. The ships now dock at the first indentation at the lower side of the island and nearly all the other water areas have been dammed in. The Original of this water color is kept in the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam.

As all Holland America Line ships have, also the ms Eurodam has a large art collection on board, some of it antique, some of it modern (Lido area) and some of it nice reproductions. The middle staircase could have had the name Rembrandt Staircase as there are reproductions of paintings of him on every deck.  Unfortunately Holland America is not that rich yet that we can afford to have a real one hanging in the ship.  The aft staircase has mainly reproductions of water color paintings and drawings by Johannes Vingboons. I had never heard about this person before but a quick search on the internet gave, that he was quite prominent in the Dutch Golden age and made charts and drawings of the Dutch colonies and strong holds around the world. Also areas which we did not own or occupied were saved for posterity. Thus he also painted the port of Port Rico as it must have been like in the 17th. Century. I say “must have” been as we know that some artists were quite creative in making things a bit bigger, a bit nicer and quite a bit more impressive. Vingboons was known to try to be as accurate as possible and this made him well known, quite famous and also quite rich around 1660. Thus his water colors give a good impression of how the harbor / bay of Puerto Rico looked like before humans started to “improve” the area and enclosed and rebuilt the surrounding area until the bay now has a current triangular form with docks and an airport on all sides.

And how the port now looks as seen on the electronic chart on the Radar. The whole greyish/brown area on the right is reclaimed land and now the local airport.

And how the port now looks as seen on the electronic chart on the Radar. The whole greyish/brown area on the right is reclaimed land and now the local airport.

Cruise ships have been calling at San Juan on a regular basis since the 1920’s and then we do not count those who made a voyage for pleasure on one of the regular passenger ships sailing to the island. Those early ships docked at the down town side and that has never changed. Only the docks are now longer and have been rebuilt several times so they can now handle the largest cruise ships. Today we were in port with the Freedom of the Seas of RCI and the Norwegian Gem of NCL which was docked at three East on the port side of us. Holland America ships have nearly always a berth at Pier 4 and the very big boys are nearly always docked at pier 3. Smaller ships go often to berth 1 although it can handle a 1000 foot ship as well. (Berth 2 is nothing more than a small ferry terminal)

Tonight we will sail at 23.00 hrs. and then cover the 90 mile distance to Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas. At the moment we are scheduled to dock at berth 1 at Havensight that is all the way in the corner.  This means that we will go in first and the other cruise ships will dock then one after the other behind us.

Weather for tomorrow:  That will be interesting. The wind is supposed to veer from the North West to the East North East tomorrow and thus back to normal. Depending on when that exactly happens will affect the weather tomorrow. A late change in the wind and it will remain dry an early change and we might get a shower. Still it will be warm, 28oc . 82 oF.

20 Feb. 2017; Grand Turk Island.

One of the things that cruise schedules and brochures have introduced is that cruise companies refer to smaller ports of call by the name of the island instead of the name of the place visited. That is nothing new, they already did so in 1900 when the first real cruises were made. (See the story of the Victoria Luise elsewhere in the blog site at: Of Days gone by)  When a ship goes to New York or to Charleston, we say that we are going to New York or Charleston. We do not say we are going to North or South Carolina or to New Jersey or to Upper State New York.  But as soon as we go Island Cruising it becomes the Island. We go to St. Thomas and a lot of cruise guests do not even know or remember that the ship called at Charlotte Amalie. We go to Barbados but why do we not go to Bridgetown??  I have never figured that one out.

So today we called at Grand Turk Island which forms part of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The name Turks comes from a Turkish cap, called a Fez and that comes from a Cactus whose top looks like this Turkish fez. For the rest it has nothing to do with Turkey what so ever. Contrary the islands are part of the United Kingdom. The main town on the island, just north of the ships docking pier, is called Cockburn town and thus that is officially the place we are visiting. Although a lot of cruise guests did not go there and were quite content to stay in the especially made resort at the end of the pier.

The ms Noordam docked at Grand Turk during the inaugural call for Pier & ship. Note that the encircled area s the only deep water space available for the ship. Not much more than two ships widths.

The ms Noordam docked at Grand Turk during the inaugural call for Pier & ship. Note that the encircled area s the only deep water space available for the ship. Not much more than two ships widths.

The pier construction was sponsored by Carnival Corporation and as a result the whole setup looks similar to Mahogany Bay and other Carnival designed or influenced piers around the Caribbean. It was opened a number of years ago with our Noordam being the first ship to call there. The pier can handle two large ships at the same time and then there is room for a 3rd ship at the anchorage but that is really weather – very good weather – depending. The anchorage is very exposed to swells curving around the island from the north and the south and from the Trade wind which blows over the island. This is one of the reasons why the dock is there. It is a nice port of call but for anchoring the weather is often not good enough. Build a pier, send ships with strong thrusters and you have a much higher chance of making it when the weather circumstances are less than perfect.

Today the weather circumstance were not ideal, although the weather guru’s, see my yesterdays’ blog, had promised sunny if windy weather. Today we got a bit of everything as a weather front dipped further down than was foreseen and provided: sunny and calm /early morning  followed by rainy and wind /middle of the day and then windy and very bumpy waves near the end of our call. This would not have been a pleasant day if we would have had to anchor here. But we docked and as the rain is not so cold as at home, we could all live with it.

Arriving in windy weather here can be a challenge as they have only dredged a small area on both sides of the pier. No more than a double ships width. Thus there is very little room for drifting and that means you need a lot of power available to go sideways against the wind when you slide a ship alongside. Leaving is less of an issue.  While going astern you can keep increasing speed all the time and the more speed, the less drifting and before the wind can get a good grip on the ship it is in open waters again, where drift is not an issue.

And that is what was done this afternoon. With the swell banging under the stern, the Eurodam popped like a rocket out of the docking area and back into open waters. From there the ship sailed around the north point of Grand Turk to the East and then South East, heading for its next port of call San Juan, Puerto Rico. We are scheduled to be docked there by 13.00 hrs. and stay until 23.00 hrs. when will make our hop to next door, St. Thomas. (Officially Charlotte Amalie, Havensight pier)

Expected Weather: Sunny 82oF / 28oC ………………. Although we have to see if that works out. Predicting the weather for San Juan is very difficult. Most of the island is covered with a dense Jungle type rain forest which creates its own micro climate around the port. You never know exactly what will happen during the day.  Apart from being sure that it will be warm, a safe bet is always that the sun will shine but there will be at least one moment of liquid sunshine during the day. We just have to hope that that moment will be in the morning when we are not there yet. The weather gurus are predicting mostly sunny skies and a North Westerly wind of 11 knots. Normally the wind is the easterly trade wind but if the wind is still North West, caused by the passing frontal system of today then we have a fair chance that that wind will push all the rain clouds to the south and it will stay dry all day.

 

19 Feb. 2017; At Sea.

Most of the Caribbean Islands do not change their clocks at all and thus are an hour behind Florida during the winter months when North America goes to winter time. That means that on the first night out the ships clocks go one hour forward and that gives a very quiet morning in the Lido. This morning it only got busy after 08.30 while on port days (or days with an hour back) the place is already hopping at 06.30 – 07.00 hrs.  So this morning it was quiet as predicted and I could breakfast in silent splendor and luxury. There was not much reason for the guests to be early as there was absolutely nothing to see. It was not until about 09.00 that the Eurodam sailed clear from under a weather system with very dark and low hanging clouds. But as the clouds had not wind in them, there was very little swell and thus it did not affect anybody very much.

Because the North Atlantic was so nice and quiet, the captain had opted for the short route sailing above the Grand Bahama Bank. That is the shorter route but if it is wobbly then going north of Cuba gives you a much calmer ride until late in the afternoon of the first sea day. So most captains go that way then, placing guests comfort above saving a few pennies on fuel. But it was not needed this time so we took the short route as we need every bit of speed available to make the time up from yesterday’s late departure.

Although I had hoped that everybody could make it to the ship on time yesterday, and to the other ships as well, this was not to be. Somehow 24,000 guests coming and going caused a hiccup in the airport and airplane supply system and not everybody was going to make it to the various ships by 16.00 hrs. thus the VHF’s starting squawking around 15.15 hrs. relaying the bad news coming from the airport. Normally the captain then has to make a quantified decision about sailing or not sailing.  Are the wait and the cost incurred balancing out against people reduced satisfaction and economic sense?

Yesterday it was a sort of joint decision with all the captains opting for staying and waiting. It also meant that our captain had to “wriggle” a lot less as the Celebrity Summit was staying as well but would still sail just before us. Giving us a lot more room to back down the Intracoastal water way to the turning basin and from there to open sea.  So instead of 16.00 hrs. the whole parade started at 17.00 hrs. and shortly there after in 5 minute intervals a big cruise ship popped out of the Port Everglades break waters.

Nice for the guests to have made it to the ship but it is not good for the fuel as on the run from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Turk the regular weather is not helping. Current and wind are standard against the general direction of where the ship is going, so it has to push and push and will never get a helping hand, until we start the return voyage. So this morning the navigators were muttering amongst themselves that the ship was having a hard time making the speed and whether another engine should be called on line.

Calling for extra engines is always worth a discussion as there are a lot of factors to consider and if you get it right, you can save a considerable amount of fuel. So the question was, for how much speed do we have to compensate taking into consideration whether the adverse wind and current will increase during the day, remain the same, or decrease?  So do we call for an extra 12 cylinder engine or a 16 cylinder engine? Shall we do it now and stop the engine later on again when we are back on the schedule again or shall we wait until we reach the moment when the average speed to maintain = maximum speed / output of the engines? And then just keep it running until arrival in port.

Experience helps a lot if you have done this route a number of times as you then roughly know what will happen during the remainder of the day with wind, weather and current. Thus the navigators decided to wait until the captain would make an appearance and then let him make the decision.

With that decision we will be sure that we arrive on time at the pier of Grand Turk Island for an all day long call. The weather gurus are predicting a sunny day with a very small chance of a shower, quite windy but that will keep the Temperatures around 77oF / 26oC.

 

18 Feb. 2017, Fort Lauderdale, USA.

And thus we are back on board again and shortly back at sea again.  This morning I boarded the ms Eurodam for a 3 week visit.  I never know what sort of cabin I will get as it depends on how full the ship is. Holland America is doing very well with its cruises at the moment and the Eurodam is full to capacity. As a result I was assigned to the pilot cabin which is located right behind the bridge.  The typical thing about pilot cabins is, that most of them are inside cabins. In general this has the full agreement of the pilots fraternity as pilots look enough out of the window while being on the bridge so their interest in having a window or porthole in the cabin is of very low priority. What a pilot wants is a quiet cabin, quiet 24 hours a day so he/ she can sleep when needed and an inside cabin will also ensure that it is dark 24 hours a day to obtain a good sleep.  For the same reasons I am always quite content to stay in a pilot cabin but will opt for a guest cabin if there are extra navigators on board. It is more important for them to be close to their work than for me.

MS Eurodam as seen departing from New York earlier in her career. (Photo courtesy Holland America Line)

MS Eurodam as seen departing from New York earlier in her career. (Photo courtesy Holland America Line)

The ms Eurodam is a sister ship of the ms Nieuw Amsterdam and together they form the Signature Class of the company. These ships are an evolution of the Vista Class and in the same way as the Koningsdam, being the first of the three Pinnacle Class ships has a lot of features which have proven successful on the Signature class. It also goes backwards as the music concept developed for the Pinnacle Class has also been introduced on the Eurodam. Thus the ship has the Lincoln Centre for classical music and the Billboard on board for the duelling piano’s.  Also the Northern lights disco has been removed and the Gallery Bar put in its place.

Our schedule for this cruise.

Our schedule for this cruise.

The Eurodam makes a variation of East and West 7 day Caribbean cruises and today the ship will sail with a full house toward Grand Turk Island, San Juan, St Thomas and then on the way back call at our private island Half Moon Cay. Then the next cruise is a West Caribbean cruise. The good ship is under the command of Captain Werner Timmers, who I have known since 1984 as he joined the company three years after me.  He will have to wriggle the ship out of Fort Lauderdale today and I use the word wriggle as the port is filled to capacity with cruise ships. When I arrived with the taxi this morning, it was an advanced form of controlled mayhem in the port with a rush hour flow of traffic to get all the guests, crew and supporting people in and out, not to count the provisions, supplies and recyclables.

Because we are actually not in Fort Lauderdale but in Port Everglades, this whole headache inducing organization is being controlled and streamlined by the Sheriff of Broward County. I assume they now have a sort of dedicated and very large Cruise department in their organization as there are always a very large number of patrol cars, motor cycles and even one or two patrol boats out from the early morning to late evening.

In port today in the cruise ship line up is : Eurodam, Carnival Conquest, Freedom of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Celebrity Summit, Island Princess, Royal Princess and then last  but not least the local cruise ferry the Bahama Express.  If all ships would be full then a rough count would indicate that there would be some 24000 guests coming and going today in the port. I wonder how the airport is coping as Ft. Lauderdale airport is a very nice one but the check in area’s are a bit tight for such an influx of guests.

But as usual the port will work its wonders and all the ships will sail today as per schedule.  I will spend the rest of my day talking to captain, staff captain and training officer to get my own show on the road and to see where my activities will assist the ship in the best way possible.  The weather looks good and we should have a nice start of the cruise.