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

Category: ms Oosterdam (page 1 of 3)

2021 April 18; Happy Birthday

Today Holland America is 148 years young and although 2020 was the most challenging year in its history as far as sailing goes, we will weather this storm and we will continue.  Our history has taught us many valuable lessons and gives ample proof we the company is able to weather any storm. Whether it was War, Depression, the onset of the Airplane, or the Mass market cruisers,   the company has always navigated safely through every challenge.  So I am confident that we will sail through the Covid Storm as well.

In November this year I will be sailing for Holland America for 40 years in those years I have seen how strong this company is in dealing with challenging great and small.

So Happy Birth Day Holland America. Two years to go to the big 150

As a small tribute I have created a company time line from the beginning to the current day.

Please find below the highlights of our History, year by year, condensed to two sentences. Every year has several highlights and what are considered the most important greatly depends on an historians personal insights. These are mine. I have tried to find an illustration in my collection which relates to the year concerned,

For more information, under the drop down box of HAL history on this website, I have also brought the company history up-to-date with more information and photos.


Capt. Albert

The Defiance credited with being the first steam driven boat to enter Rotterdam

1816   The first Steamboat visits Rotterdam and the public and business community gets the first glimpse of what can be done without sails.

The caption reads  view on the Maas at Rotterdam with Steam boat in 1825.

1825   The first river boats with (auxiliary) stream propulsion arrive on the Dutch inland waterways and thoughts in Rotterdam are going towards using steam for deep sea.

This was what all the fuss was about.  Before 1872 it was a long way around the islands to get to Rotterdam with a large and deep drafted ship.

1863   The Dutch Government agrees to create a “New Waterway”, capable of accommodating deep drafted Steamships, which will link the port of Rotterdam with the North Sea.

Our first ship the ss Rotterdam (I) depicted on a painting by C.A de Vries.

1871   On February 08, the forebear of the Holland America line is founded; by means of the private company C.V Plate, Reuchlin & Co. and two new steamships are ordered in Scotland.

The sister ship ms Maas. named after the river which gave Rotterdam access to the sea. she was later renamed to Maasdam (I) to bring all the ship names in line with the DAM naming policy.

1872   The Nieuwe Waterweg .e.g. New Water Way is opened. On October 15, the first ship of the new company the ss Rotterdam (I) departs for New York.

Funnel Markings and Flag. Green-White-Green where the colours of the city of Rotterdam

1873   On April 18, the private company goes public to obtain funds for more ships and the Nederlandsch Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij or NASM sees the light of day. We consider this  the official birthday of Holland America Line.

The P. Caland. The 2nd newbuilt of the company after it went public. Seen here in the local drydock.

1874  Two new ships are added to the Fleet, the s.s. W.A Scholten and the s.s. P. Caland. With four ships a regular steamship service to New York can now be maintained.

And here a sea-view of the same P. Caland  at New York. the ship was named after the designer of the “Nieuwe Waterweg” which Rotterdam access to the North Sea.

1875   The “Nieuwe Waterweg” starts to silt up and the ships have to take a circumstantial inland water route to reach Rotterdam or discharge cargo to reduce the draft. All costing time and money.

The ss W.A Scholten sister to the P. Caland and named after a major investor in the company. Seen here ploughing through the winter ice in New york.

1876   The new company is in crisis as there is an economic slump in the USA and no investments can be made as there is not much money coming in.

The ss Schiedam (I) shortly after she came into service.

1877 Trade picks up and a fifth ship, the ss Schiedam (I), is added to the fleet. This is an existing ship which is taken over from English Company and could thus be directly slotted into the fleet.

In the beginning emigrants stayed in local hotel which were often not that great. In 1901 the company opened its own Hotel on the company pier. It came complete with a chapel, a Cafe and medical facilities.

1878   Holland America at this time was primarily an emigrant carrier and in this year it started to work together with the local authorities to ensure good local hotel facilities for the waiting emigrants.

The ss Amsterdam I.  The painter who created this took some liberty with reality as the wind is pushing the sails one way and the smoke the other way.

1879 Profits are up and the company orders a new ship. The ss Amsterdam (I) would arrive in March 1880. Also this year dividend could be paid again to the shareholders.

The Holland Amerika Lijn docks before 1900.

1880   A sister ship to the Amsterdam (I) was ordered and arrived in 1881, called the Edam (I) The ships now had a permanent dock location in Rotterdam where the company would stay until 1891.

The docks at Hoboken. this engraving is from around 1890,

1881   Also on the American side a permanent pier was leased. The company settled down at the Hoboken side of the river. Here the leases were cheaper and the docks were also closer to the railroad station.

The companies docks in Amsterdam.

1882   Competition from a company in Amsterdam had to be warded off and for the next 10 years Holland America also sailed from this port. Using charter ships in the beginning and own tonnage later.

The ss Edam (I) of 1881 was the first of 4 ships bearing this name. this is a rather scarce postcard showing the ship in bad weather. And not un-realistic as the ships were small and the waves were big.

1883   The ss Maas, the 2nd ship of the company went for a refit and the company grabbed the opportunity to rename her in Maasdam (I) establishing the naming pattern which has lasted to the current day.

A very scarce photo is showing a deck scene on board the ss Edam (II).  The sign on the railing  is there to advise the emigrants to stay off the First Class deck area.

1884   The ss Amsterdam (I) was lost due to a fire caused by an exploding petrol lamp and the ship was not directly replaced as trade was not as brisk as was hoped for.

To attract passengers, first class and emigrants alike,  the company had an extensive network of agents all over Europe and the US. This, to the left, is the office in Geneva around 1900.

1885   By now a trade war had broken out on the North Atlantic. More ships meant more berths to fill and thus the emigrant ticket prices went down. It would not be until 1892 that a solution was derived at.

The Werkendam. One of a series of new ships bought. Marketing in later years did not like the name very much (hard to pronounce for non -Dutch) and thus it was not repeated in naming routine.

1886   Trade started to pick up again and in a few years’ time seven more ships were added to the fleet. Rotterdam (II), Amsterdam (II), Maasdam (II), Obdam, Werkendam, Veendam (I), Spaarndam (I).

The Veendam (I) seen here docked in an unknown port but most likely Rotterdam.

1887   Another ship was lost, the W.A Scholten from 1874, which sank after a collision. The man after which the ship was named came from the town of Veendam and hence a new Veendam (I) was added.

Poort means Gate and hence it is easy to see why the building was called the “Gate-Building” Holland America had its offices on the second floor.

1888   A new headquarters was established at “Het Poort Gebouw” in Rotterdam. Easily recognizable as the entrance road into the dock area went under the office areas. The company would stay here until 1891.

The ss Zaandam (I)Painted by Antonio Jacobson of New York who had a preference for wild seas if given a free hand in the composition.

1889   The company decided to diversify and opened a service to Argentina with the Zaandam (I) taking the first sailing to Buenos Aires in December.

The ss Didam of 1891. The company had the ships for the Argentina service especially built as they needed a much larger coal storage / bunker space due to the long distance to Buenos Aires.

1890 The trade to Argentina look promising and two new ships were ordered for this route. The Didam and the Dubbeldam. However a revolution broke out and the venture came to an untimely end.

The New head office under construction. It is still exists and is now a very popular hotel and /restaurant,

1891 The Head Office moved to the Wilhelminakade in the center of the port and here it would keep it main office until the passenger side was moved to New York in 1971.

A well-known photo of this very important agreement. All the representatives of the participating companies are present here.

1892   Very important for the survival of most of the North Atlantic steamship company’s was the creation of the North Atlantic Steam Association which from now on regulated the prices for emigrant crossings.

The Holland America Tender “Chicago” embarking emigrants to take to the ship at anchor outside the port.

1893   The World Fair took place in Paris and the HAL ships started to call at the French Port of Boulogne Sur Mer. BSM would remain the regular French port of call for the company until the 2nd world war.

The docks at Hoboken sometime after 1900. Alongside the ss Potsdam recognizable due to the very tall funnel.

1894   At Hoboken a 2nd pier was leased from the port Authority at 7th. Street and here the company would keep its terminal until 1964 when it fully moved to the Manhattan side of the Hudson River.

The Rotterdam (II) at anchor near Copenhagen. Apart from going through the Canal  a visit to this city was also part of the “Excursion”.

1895 The ss Rotterdam (II) made the first cruise for Holland America with an “excursion” to the Kieler Kanal. The success would help to decide the entry into cruising a number of years later.

The ss Obdam, seen here loading in Rotterdam, did not sail long for the company but was sold in 1898 to the USA and played a signifciant role in the Spanish- American war.

1896   The Directors of the NASM finally accepted the fact that everybody called the company Holland America Line and not by its very long founding name. Both titles were now to be used.

The ss Rotterdam III is the least known of all the “Rotterdams” which sailed for the HAL. Most likely as she was overshadowed by her namesake of 1908.

1897   The ss Rotterdam (III) entered service and she was the first twin screw vessel for the company. This ship was still built in Great Britain as the Dutch yards could not yet deliver ships of this size.

This is the “Ladies Salon” also called the “Drawing Room” or the “Parlor” depending of the preference of the newspaper men.

1898   A near sister if the Rotterdam (III), the Statendam (I) entered service and she has been credited with being the first ship where the management took a great interest in the interior lay out of the vessel.

The ss Amsteldijk (I) one of the first cargo-only ships of the company. Apart from cargo she could also carry 350 head of cattle and had accommodation for 48 officers and crew and 18 Cattle Hands.

1899   A new route was opened to Newport News for cargo ships and this was so successful that 3 new cargo-only ships were ordered. These all received names with Dijk endings such as ss Amsteldijk (I).

The first in the series of new passenger ships was the ss Potsdam of 1900.

1900   The ships with a DAM name ending were now designated as Passenger ships and three new ones were brought into service. The ss Potsdam (1900), ss Noordam (I) (1901) and the ss Rijndam (I) (1902)

The ss Noordam (I) which entered service in 1901 as was an identical sister to the Rijndam (I) of 1902

1901 The Banker and Rail Road magnate J.P Morgan obtained control of a large number of HAL shares and also those of some other companies. Idea was to create a “railroad at sea” without competition.

The First Class Dining room. There is  a small sky light for natural light in in centre. with the later ships this would grow out to a two story affair.

1902   More than 51% of the shares came under his control and timetables were brought in line with the sailings of the other companies. It was not until well into WWI before HAL was independent again.

This shows the Tenders Holland an France attending the ss Volendam (I) from 1922. The  ships would often stop not longer than 30 minutes to an hour to do the transfers.

1903   The company established a French Subsidiary in Boulogne Sur Mer, called the Compagnie Franco Hollando Americaine, needed to operate its tenders as the ships stayed at anchor at this port.

The original Wireless Transmitting “Marconi” Radio Station on the ss Noordam (I)

1904   Telegraphy arrived on the ships and the ss Noordam (I) was the first to receive such an installation. Not operated by the company’s officers but by the Marconi Company who controlled the trade.

The Nieuw Amsterdam (I) on the slipway of Harland and Wolff in Belfast.

1905   With the Ticket prices regulated competition had become fair again and the company had ordered two new and very big ships the Nieuw Amsterdam (I) and the Rotterdam (IV).

The Nieuw Amstedam (I) of 1906 seen here at full speed.

1906 The Nieuw Amsterdam (I) arrived this year and with a tonnage of 16967 Grt. It was one of the 10 largest ships in the world for that year. It could carry 2350 emigrants but also 440 First Class and 246 second class pax.

The Japanese Tea room on board the Nieuw Amsterdam (I) A large skylight provided natural light which was considered a luxury item for a ship.

1907   The service to Newport News was expanded with regular calls at other ports and would remain part of the Holland America route system to well into the late 1960’s.

The ss Rotterdam (IV) seen here on the Nieuw Waterweg heading for open sea.

1908   The Rotterdam (IV) was 30% larger than the Nieuw Amsterdam but its emigrant accommodation was smaller as the company was now offering more elbow room for even its cheapest fare guests.

The company donated a replica of the original Haelve Maen which Henry Hudson used to sail up to what is now Manhattan. The model can be seen loaded her on board the cargo ship ss Soestdijk (I) for transport to New York.

1909   The British Neptune Line to Newport News was taken over and with it came six cargo ships, greatly expanding the fleet. In New York Holland America took part in the Hudson – Festivities.

Not many photos exist of the safety drills in the old days. But here is one of a boat drill held on the Statendam (I) Pre-Titanic so no lifejackets, no railings and no safety lines.

1910 The Statendam (I) made a cruise to the Holy Land in March and its success made sure that the ss Rotterdam (IV) would eventually be used for similar voyages.

The ss Zijldijk of 1909 still had a bowsprit and a figure head as a throwback to the old sailing days. She called on her voyages at the port of Savanah.

1911   Another service, started in 1910, became a permanent feature with cargo ships sailing from Rotterdam to Savannah. This route was called the “Burg Lijn” and was carried out for a Dutch brokerage company.

The ss Maartendijk of 1909, built for the service to North East America was moved to the new Gulf service in  1913

1912   A new cargo service to Cuba, Mexico and New Orleans was opened. This was such a success that after WWI a series of 4 passenger cargo ships was built especially for this route.

The ss Westerdijk of 1913 filled the gap when the ss Maartendijk was moved tot the new route.

1913   To have sufficient capacity for all these new routes, new cargo ships were taken into service. The Oosterdijk, Westerdijk and Zuiderdijk, all named after the main points of a compass.

The ss Statendam (II) seen here launched on 06 July 1914. She was supposed to be about 30% bigger again as the ss Rotterdam (IV) from 1908.

1914   On the 6th. of July, the Statendam (II) was launched with the intention to have her enter service in 1915. War interfered and she was torpedoed in 1917 as the troopship Justicia sailing for the British.

To avoid being torpedoed several ideas were tried. Being neutral required the name of the ship on the side and then “dazzle Paint” was applied to make it as difficult as possible for an U boat commander to see the ship. This is the Sommelsdijk (II) of 1912.

1915   The Netherlands was neutral during WWI and most ships continued sailing but under very difficult circumstances. 3 ships hit a mine and all ships were subject to strict inspections by the allied forces.

For neutral ships the biggest danger was mines. Here the ss Noordam (I) is seen sinking  after mine hit the stern of the ship. Luckily she could be saved.

1916   The U-boat danger was now so grave that the ss Rotterdam (IV) was laid up but the profits made with the other ships were so high that the 1915 dividend was set at 50% over each share.

The ss Zaandijk (I)ran on a mine in 1916. as seen above, but cold be repaired. The next year she was not so lucky.

1917   Two cargo ships, the Noorderdijk (I) and Zaandijk (I) were torpedoed on the same day and sunk. The Noordam (I) ran on a mine for the 2nd time. But profits continued to be good and  the company managed to buy back all foreign held shares. Making it a fully independent company again.

The USS Rijndam (I), seen here at St.Nazaire France, ferried US troops to Flanders Fields and later back again. (Photo courtesy: US Congress)

1918   All the HAL ships that were laid up in USA ports had been seized in 1917 and forced into service for the US Government. The Oosterdijk sank after a collision and the ss Rijndam (I) became a US troopship.

The ss Zaandijk (II) was taken over from the Germans as compensation for the sinking of the Zaandijk (I). She was originally the ss Silesia of HAPAG.

1919   With the war over reconstruction could begin. Cargo ships from Germany were taken over, two replacement passengerships were ordered for the sunk ss Justicia and 60,000 tons of steel was received as compensation.

The ss Waaldijk which had joined the fleet in 1914 seen here in VNS charter. The only change to sail for the VNS was, to paint over the hal colours on the funnel to one red band.

1920   Holland America participated in a joint venture with other Dutch companies called the VNS or United Shipping for services to the Far East and Africa. Each company participated with entering own ships.

In 1919 the company had bought an American ferry, the SS Madison and used here as the ss Warszawa to feeder emigrants from Dantzig and Libau in the Baltic to Rotterdam. She was  sold back to her original owners in 1926.

1921   Plans to return to the pre-war emigrant trade were dashed when US congress approved a Quota Act to reduce the number of emigrants entering the USA. Basically now only 10% of the postwar emigrant numbers were allowed to be landed by each company. Other sources of income had to be found.

The ss Volendam (I) of 1922 Seen here manoeuvring off Hoboken in New York

1922   Two medium seized passenger ships entered service, the Veendam (II) and Volendam (I) their immigrant capacity reduced from 1200 Third class to 484 Tourist Class.

The ss Bilderdyk (I) of 1923. the others in the class were the Binnendyk, Blijdendyk, Breedyk, Burgerdyk, Beemsterdyk, Boschdyk and Blommersdyk.

1923   With the 60,000 tons steel a series o f cargo ships were built called the B class. Construction of a new Statendam (III) started in 1920 was halted. Holland America changed the spelling of the ships names from IJ to Y. So a Dutch Dijk became an American Dyk.

The Statendam (III) launched on 11 September 1924

1924   The hull of the Statendam (III) was launched without ceremony and promptly laid up with all work suspended due to lack of money.

The ss Rotterdam (IV) seen here at Cannes during one of her 1920’s cruises.

1925 The Rotterdam (IV) had resumed the pre-war Holy Land cruises from New York and would from now on make each year such a cruise during the North Atlantic Off-season of January, February and March.

The ss Rijndam (I) sailing as a floating University.

1926   A more un-usual cruise was made this year, the Ryndam (I) went for a seven month around the World cruise as a floating University. The 506 students on board visited the countries they studied about on board, saw the sights, and also met Mussolini and the King of Siam.

The unfinished hull of the ss  Statendam (III) being towed to Rotterdam by three Dutch Tugs.

1927   The hull of the laid up Statendam (II) was towed to Holland for completion and would enter service in 1929. Finally there was money to complete the ship which was quite similar to the ill fated  Statendam (II)

The ms Delftdyk was especially built for the North Pacific service. After the war she hit a min and was completely rebuilt and given a new name: ms  Dongedyk.

1928   Two new motor ships (Delftdyk/Damsterdyk) had been ordered for the North Pacific service to Vancouver in 1927 and would come into service in 1929 and 1930. Each could carry 50 passengers.

The ss Statendam (III) when finished, she was the only 3 funnelled ship ever to be in operation for Holland America.

1929   There was the Wall Street Crash and the maiden voyage of the ss Statendam (III). The company now had 3 large passenger ships in service but at the same time revenue plummeted.

The ss Edam (IV) was the lead ship of a class of four passenger cargo ships built for the Rotterdam, Iberia, Cuba and Gulf Service in 1921. They could carry 14 First Class, 174 Second Class and 802 Third Class.

  1930 Most of the Cargo ships were laid up and carrying passengers to Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico was completely stopped and the route only continued as a cargo service.

The entrance to the Company docks. Laborers waiting to go to work.

1931 Cost savings had to be made and Sea and Shore side personnel were laid off. Contributions to the pension fund were reduced and some permanent labour contracts were changed to “by the day”.

Aerial view of the port of Rotterdam. the whole center area was part of the Holland Amerika Lijn. The ss Statendam (III) ca be seen alongside the passenger terminal

1932 Ticket prices were reduced by up to 40%. Laid up cargo ships were sold off or scrapped. The Nieuw Amsterdam (I) was sold for scrap in 1931 and no feasible plans could be considered for a replacement.

The passenger ships made as many cruises as possible to compensate for  the down turn in Trans Atlantic business. The Rotterdam (IV) was even painted white for a short while but that was not a great success.

1933 The shareholders became so worried about their investments that a special “strong man” from outside the company was appointed to restructure the company at save it for the future.

The ss Veendam (II) seen here docked at St. Georges, Bermuda during one of her cruises from New York.

1934   The new company structure was successful and as world trade slowly improved plans were drawn up to build a running mate for the Statendam (III) which eventually entered service in 1938

The ms Noordam (II) was the first of a series of four passenger cargo ships with the first one arriving in 1938.

1935   The company made a profit again and decided to design 4 passenger cargo ships for the direct intermediate service to New York with a one class accommodation of 125 passengers.

First Class Lounge on the Statendam (III). The carpet could be rolled away and then a large dancefloor was exposed.

1936   A sign of things to come was when the Statendam (III) carried an airplane to the Netherlands for the Royal Dutch Airlines. It were the airplanes which eventually brought the regular passenger liner service to an end.

The Sloterdyk (II) and her sister Sommelsdyk (III)  came into service just before the war started. Although being cargo ships there was space for 12 passengers,

1937 On the 10th of April Queen Wilhelmina launched the new flagship of the company the Nieuw Amsterdam (II) and two new cargo ships were ordered, the Sloterdyk (II) and Sommelsdyk (III).

The Nieuw Amsterdam (II)  this photo was taken on the departure for her maiden voyage to New York.

1938   The first of the four passenger cargo ships the Noordam (II) came into service in April followed by Nieuw Amsterdam (II) in May. With a size of £36,287 gt. She could carry 1200+ passengers in 3 classes.

The ss Westernland in HAL colours. She was eventually sold to the British Admirality to be turned into a Navy support ship.

1939 The Red Star Line was bought. Owned by the Jewish Mr. Bernstein who could no longer operate the company due being under arrest in Germany. Two ships the ss Pennland and the ss Westernland were taken over.

The HAL ships came in the cross fire when German Paratroopers came up against the Dutch Royal Marines.  To the left the ss Statendam (III) can be seen on fire. Behind the man on the bike is the ss Veendam (II) which spent the war in German hands.

1940   On 10 May 1940 Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands. Luckily most of the fleet was outside the home port and joined the Allied war effort. The Statendam (III) caught fire and burnt out. As resistance was fierce, the City of Rotterdam was bombed causing the Dutch to surrender.

The ss Pennland on fire off the coast of Greece. (Photo courtesy Capt. A.M van Gemert from whose lifeboat this photo was taken)

1941   The cargo ship ss Beemsterdyk was torpedoed and the ss Pennland sank after air attacks off Greece. Shortly after the ss Maasdam (II) was also torpedoed and sank while in convoy when a nearby ship exploded.

The ss Breedijk in war ship grey colours. She was torpedoed on 14 September 1942 South of Las Palmas. The Captain and one Steward died in the tragedy.

1942 Apart from the cargo ship ss Breedyk also  the ppassenger cargo liner ss Zaandam (II) was torpedoed and suffered 127 casualties including two Holland America Line captains.

Full house on the Nieuw Amsterdam during troop transport in the tropics. Apart from boxing contests there was often a complete entertainment group on board including well known stars from Stage and Screen.

1943   The passenger ships were all converted to troopships. The ms Noordam (II) designed for 125 passengers could now carry 2300 troops and the ss Nieuw Amsterdam (II) just short of 9000.

The ms Zuiderdam (I) sister to the ms Noordam (II) and ms Zaandam (II)  was sunk in the “Nieuwe Waterweg” and burnt out. the hull was deemed beyond salvage and scrapped after the war.

1944   At home two cargo passenger ships, Westerdam  (I) and Zuiderdam (I) had been under construction when the war started and were now used as blockade ships to keep the expected invasion out the ports.

This was what was left of downtown Rotterdam after the bombardment of 1940. The situation at the company docks was not much different with only the main office building still standing.

1945 After the liberation on the 10 th. of May 1945 the rebuiling started at once. Holland America had lost 50% of its fleet, 265 employees had lost their lives and nearly all the Rotterdam property was damaged beyond repair and needed to be rebuilt from scratch.

The ss Nieuw Amsterdam (II) coming home in 1946. When the war ended she still sailed a full year as a troopship for bringing the troops home.

1946   The Nieuw Amsterdam (II) arrived home on 10 April 1946 with a war record of having steamed 530,452 miles and carried 378,361 troops. A record only broken by the Cunard Queens who were double the size.

The Amsteldyk (II) was the first of 10 Victory cargo ships acquired by the HAL.

1947   Part of the rebuilt program was the acquisition of 10 Victory cargo ships who were called the A class. The Veendam (II) which had spent the war in Germany returned to service as well as the Nieuw Amsterdam (II).

The ss Volendam (I) seen here entering the Grand Harbour in Valetta Malta had served the whole war as a troopship. Together with her sister Veendam (II)  they were refitted for post war duty but were by then old and tired ships.

1948   In three years’ time 19 ships were added to the fleet and 5 passenger ships were in operation. Plans were drawn up for new ships for the West Coast service and to replace the Veendam (II) and Volendam (I)

The ss Aalsdyk sailing by Sugar Loaf mountain near Rio de Janeiro

1949   A new service was opened to South America and the company became an important carrier of goods for the Marshall Plan, the support program the USA had set up to get Europe back on its feet again.

The ms Damsterdyk from 1930 re-emerged after the war as the ms Dalerdyk after a complete refurbishment.

1950 Two pre-war ships employed on the North Pacific service  were completely refurbished and renamed.  This service ran from Hamburg via Rotterdam, Panama Canal along the whole Pacific Coast of North America to Vancouver.

The ss Ryndam (II) of 1951 had for those days, the very unusual concept of only a small First Class area just under the funnel and the rest of the ship assigned as Tourist Class.

1951   The ss Ryndam (II) was commissioned followed by a sister ship the ss Maasdam (IV) and they took over from the aging V ships. Because the original hull design had been meant for a cargo ship they were known to be very ” lively”.

The ss Groote Beer was originally built as a Victory ship with troop capacity. Obtained by the Dutch Government, first for troopship duty and then for emigrant voyages. Those to North America were under management of the HAL.

1952   For the booming emigrant trade the HAL took over the troopship Groote Beer from the Dutch Government and used her for emigrant services to the USA and Canada and student trips to Europe.

The Ryndam (II) and Maasdam (III) both docked at Hoboken Piers. For a while they were marked as “The Thrifty Liners” as a Tourist Class ticket was really good value for money.

1953   Business was going well and thoughts went towards an intermediate liner which could also be used for cruises and a running mate for the Nieuw Amsterdam (II) which would become the Rotterdam (V).

The K -class, with the ms Kinderdyk seen here as the first of the series. These ships  just fitted in the new St. Lawrence Locks.

1954   The company expanded once again their cargo network with opening a new route to the Great Lakes when access locks to the St. Lawrence River were enlarged. The K-class ships were built.

Apart from ordering ships for the St. Lawrence locks, also new builds were commissioned for the North Pacific service. Here we see the ss Diemerdyk  leaving Rotterdam.

1955   The name ss Statendam (IV) was announced for the intermediate Liner which was to enter service in 1957 and the order for the Rotterdam (V) was given to the Rotterdam Dry-dock Company in Rotterdam.

The ss Statendam (IV). The first class accommodation of 89 passengers was located on the decks right behind the funnel. The 857 in Tourist class had the run of the rest of the  ship.

1956   The clasas concept of the Ryndam (II) had proven very successful and thus the Statendam (IV) also was designed with a small First Class and a large Tourist Class capacity making it easy for one class cruising.

The ss Dinteldyk (II) Although being  a cargo ship with a large passenger accommodation she was given the grey color passenger hull as she was considered the flagship of the west-coast fleet.

1957   The ss Statendam (IV) came into service on the North Atlantic route and would make in 1958 the First World cruise for the company with normal guests on board.

The ss Rotterdam (V) being launched. It was estimated that approx. 100,000 people from City of Rotterdam attended the launch.

1958   The Statendam (IV) made the first world cruise for regular passengers and the ss Rotterdam (V) was launched on the 13th. of September by her Majesty Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.

Most traditional liners had the accommodation laid out vertically. The Rotterdam (V) had all the public rooms horizontally. First Class on Upper Promenade Deck and Tourist class on Promenade deck. Open the connecting doors and two full decks were easy accessible to all during One Class cruises.

1959   In 1958 the airplane had carried as many travellers as all the ships on the North Atlantic route together and thus cruising became more and more important. Hence the new Flagship was optimized in layout for one class cruising during the North Atlantic off-season.

The arrival of the container caused a major disruption in the port and ships operations and also in labour relations.

1960   The step by step arrival of the container in the cargo business meant that conventional cargo ships became less and less effective. Competitors from the past now joined up to form joint ventures to reduce the costs.

The ms Gaasterdyk (II) The lead ship of the G- class especially meant for for the Gulf service. Although they were also seen on all the other routes of the company.

1961 New cargo ships, called the G-class were introduced especially for the Gulf of Mexico service and the older A class cargos ships were sold off one after the other and were all gone by 1969.

The ms Lady Jane ,of Vander Laan Shipping, was one of the first ships designed to carry ultra heavy cargos and where in high demand for transit with oil exploration related cargos. HAL had taken a share in this “heavy Lift” company.

1962 With both the North Atlantic and the cargo business facing an uncertain future, the company decided to diversify with investments outside its core business. Acquisitions were made in hotels, an airline, travel agencies, a dredging company etc. etc.

Pier 40 was the best pier there was for processing cargo and passengers when opened in 1962 . From left to right: The ss Rotterdam (V), the ss  Statendam (IV), either the Noordam (II) or the Westerdam (I) and a K class freighter.

1963   Between the end of 1962 and mid 1964 Holland America moved its operation from the Hoboken side of the Hudson to downtown Manhattan where it had taken a lease on the brand new Pier 40.

The ms Prinses Margriet was taken over from another company and as she carried the name of the “God child” of the Dutch Merchant Marine (2nd daughter of the Queen) she was not renamed to a DAM name.

1964 A small passenger- cargo ship the Prinses Margriet which had been in charter for a while was taken over and used for North Atlantic crossings and well attended “cargo cruises” from New York to the Caribbean.

The ms Moerdyk (II) This ship was already container friendly with having space for them around the cargo hatches but it was not enough to keep the real container ships from taking over.

1965 The last conventional cargo ship the ms Moerdyk (II) came into service. The next step would be to invest in container ships and the company participated in the Atlantic Container Line.

The first ever Share of the company. bought by His Royal highness Prins Hendrik of the Netherlands and sponsor of the company in 1873.

1966   When the company was founded in 1873 it had been scheduled for a lifespan of 100 years. To avoid the company from being abolished in 1973 a new charter was adopted for an open ended future.

The first containership the ms Atlantic Star. She carried containers in front of the bridge and rolling stock (cars and anything else on wheels) in a large space under the accommodation with a ramp at the stern.

1967 The English company Cunard joined the ACL combine and each company would now participate with two ships. One slow, one fast. Holland America brought in the Atlantic Star and the fast Atlantic Crown.

The ships became Hotels and somebody in marketing came up with the idea of “Floatels”.

1968   The North Atlantic service was coming to an end and the operating structure on board the passenger ships was changed to a Hotel setup with an integrated service led by a Hotel manager.

The last of her kind with HAL. The Victory cargo ship ss Andyk (II) was phased out in 1969.

1969   The shore side operating structure was also re-organized with more clearly defined departments and overlaps were removed. The last ship of the A class the ss Andyk (II) was sold.

The first artist impression of the Prinsendam (I) Here Holland America would test its idea’s about the future of cruising.

1970 An order was placed for two small cruise ships as the company wanted to experiment with an own design for the future cruise fleet. In the end only one was built. As the Dutch Tax system became so progressive the HAL introduced Indonesian crewmembers on the ships.

The ss Statendam (IV) seen here sporting the new blue hull and the orange funnel with the wave logo.

1971   A 70% share was taken in the Westours Tour Organization of Seattle which gave Holland America access to Alaska. The cruise ships were refurbished and a new “Wave” logo and hull color appeared.

The ms Bilderdyk (II) A large crane moved over the whole length of the ship cargo bays. The barges were lowered into the water at the stern of the ship.

1972   The company had also just introduced the ms Bilderdyk (II) a LASH (Lighter Aboard SHip) barge carrier for the Gulf service. 83 barges could be left behind for loading and un-loading while the ship continued its voyage.

The ss Veendam (III) and Volendam (II). Very steady, deep drafted and spacious ships. But they used a lot of oil and thus their profitability after the Oil-crisis was somewhat limited.

1973   Now 100 years young and the company brought into service two ex-American passenger ships under the names of Volendam (II) and Veendam (III). But due to the oil crises they had to be laid up again.

The ms Prinsendam (I). A sistership was never built but her design was the basis for the new N-class

1974 The 8900 ton Prinsendam (I) arrived carrying 374 guests was sent to Alaska and Indonesia for summer and winter cruises. It was also decided to sell off the complete cargo division as per 01 January 1975.

The Monarch Sun and Monarch Star. Operationally it did not really work out with this daughter company and hence the company lasted only a few years.

1975   The Veendam and Volendam came back into service but for a Subsidiary called Monarch Cruises with trips to the Caribbean from Miami. The Lease of Pier 40 in New York was sold and the offices moved to Two Penn Plaza.

the counter the larger P&O ships, the Monarch Star was send to Alaska. And when the ships came back under the HAL flag, the ss Veendam (II) continued to do so. Here the ship is sailing under the Lions Gate bridge from Vancouver to Alaska.

1976   Although Holland America had pulled out of Europe with its ships and marketing, the company bought a British travel Agency chain as it was noted that many British Guests took P&O ships to the USA and Alaska.

The ss Rotterdam (V) in the mean time made cruises to the Bahamas and Bermuda until also she was sent to Alaska.

1977  In 1973/74 the registration of the cruise ships had been moved from Rotterdam the Netherlands to Willemstad, Curacao.  In this year the financial seat of HAL was moved here was well.

The Fairweather I was used as a dayboat between Juneau and Skagway sailing up and down the scenic Lynn Canal.

1978 Monarch Cruises had been absorbed into a new company Holland America Tours. Investments were made in the Alaska infrastructure with buying more hotels, a day boat for the Lynn Canal and more coaches.

1979   As part of the Coach expansion The “Gray line of Seattle” franchise was bought. The buses were used to bring guests from Seattle airport to the ships in Vancouver and for sightseeing tours.

The N-ships were an enlarged version of the 1973 Prinsendam (I) with some features taken over from the V ships such as the Crowsnest.

1980   Experience with the Prinsendam (I) had learned how much more economical a purposely designed ship was compared to the older tonnage such as the Statendam (IV). Two enlarged Prinsendam versions were ordered in France.

The Glacier Queen I was used for day trips at various locations in Alaska.

1981 The Prinsendam (I) would never see her larger sister as she sank in autumn 1980 in the Gulf of Alaska  due to an engine room fire; luckily without any casualties. A sightseeing company in the Prince William Sound was bought to provide glacier tours in College Fjord.

The Fairbanks Hotel in Alaska. Holland America -Westours operated a large number of these Hotels under the Westmark name.

1982   More investments took place in Alaska and by now Westours / HAL controlled 65% of the Alaska Tour trade. The Statendam (IV) was sold to French Operators.

The Nieuw Amsterdam (III) of 1983 and one of the most fuel economic cruise ships out there. She could almost carry double of the V-ships capacity for a 3rd of the fuel consumption.

1983 The operating costs of the older ships had weighed heavily the balance sheet and this year was a crucial year in turning the company around by moving away from the old ways of operating and cost control. The first new build the Nieuw Amsterdam (III) entered service.

The ms Noordam (III) Once completed she was immediately sent to Alaska for the summer season. Seen here in Glacier Bay.

1984   The 2nd new build the Noordam (III) entered service in April. The V ships were sold off but the Rotterdam (V) stayed as she could still very well cope with the changes in the Cruise Industry.

The mighty bow if the ss Rotterdam (V). Seen here during her 1985 dry dock.

1985   Apart from the yearly world cruise of the Rotterdam (V) all three ships were now employed on short but very profitable cruises to Alaska, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The first group of Philippina Bar stewardesses on board the ss Rotterdam V. Some of the Ladies served more than 30 years with the company, In the middle Chief Officer (later Captain) Leo van Lanschot Hubrecht.

1986  The company started to employ Ladies from the Philippines  in the Front Office and in the Bars.

The motor sailing yacht  Windstar. If the wind was blowing the wrong way, then the engine ensured that the next port was still reached on time.

1987   The Rotterdam (V) made her last world cruise as the revenue on the shorter cruise was much higher. A 50% share in Windstar Sail Cruises was taken and the company bought outright in 1988

The ms Westerdam (II) ex ms Homeric. In the winter of 1989/90 she was stretched by an 100 feet  to increase capacity.

1988   The next acquisition was buying the Home Line ships, Atlantic and Homeric. The Atlantic was chartered out and then sold off but the Homeric became the Westerdam (II) and was with 42000 tons the largest ship ever to sail under the Holland America Line flag.

Carnival Corporation owned Carnival Cruise Lines but was not just a cruise company. It was a much larger organisation which even owned an own Air Line.

1989   On 15 January Holland America became un-expectedly an independent subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation of Miami. They operated Carnival Cruise Lines but now wanted access to the premium market.

The Cape Fox Hotel, high up the hill,  was operated by WestMark hotels and could be reached by road but also by Funicular.

1990 Money was made available to order 3 new ships called the S-class in Italy. Each to be in the region of 55,000 tons with 1266 lower beds. A new hotel was built overlooking Ketchikan in a joint venture with the local Indian tribe.

These coaches were called  “Bendy Busses”  on they ships and had a bar in the back part of the carriage.

1991   17 more coaches were added to the Alaska coach fleet and they were quite special as they had a small kitchen/bar with stewardess on board at the end of the cabin.

The ms Statendam (V) arriving in Amsterdam in 1993. Almost double the size but with the same umber of guests as the N-ships, the S -class was a great improvement.

1992   The company now geared up for a major tour de force, doubling the fleet by adding a new ship every year for the next 3 years and needing to train up about 3000 new crewmembers.

The S-class ships came with the first real atriums on the HAL ships. Located in the center of the ship. This is the “Jacobs” ladder on the ms Maasdam (V) made of Murano glass.

1993 The first new built ms Statendam (V) was delayed entering service by 6 weeks but made a big impact as, although carrying more guests, her space ratio compared to the N ships was 43.8 against 27.9. The Maasdam (V) followed in October.

The ms Ryndam (III) Seen here sailing to Alaska with a Vancouver departure.

1994   The ms Statendam (V) was send on a world cruise but it was decided to move the cruise back to the Rotterdam which had done made the 1993 World Cruise. With all the extra capacity available the company started to sail in European waters in the summer as well and not just to Alaska.

The ms Veendam (III) seen here on a windless day off the port of Haines in Alaska.

1995   With the arrival of the Ryndam (III) the fleet was complete but a fourth sister the Veendam (IV) had been ordered for 1996. HAL ships were now sailing to all corners of the world.

The new Fastdam as per artist impression painting by Marine Artist Captain Stephen Card.

1996   Project “Fastdam” was embarked upon. A ship which could take over the role of the Rotterdam (V) and with a 25 knot speed visit more ports on longer (world cruises) in a same time period.

An artificial harbour was dug on the west (=lee) side of the island where the ships tender could dock.

1997   The company leased 15000 acres of Little San Salvador Island in the Bahamas as a resort and renamed it Half Moon Cay.  The Rotterdam (V) left Holland America on September 30th. but a new Rotterdam (VI) filled the void.

Apart from the close sister to the Rotterdam (VI) also two more ships in the class were ordered, the Volendam (III) and the Zaandam (III). These last two only had one funnel and a slightly larger guest capacity.

1998   Now 125 years young the company was thriving as never before. In this year 120 departures to Alaska were offered and a sister ship for the Rotterdam (VI) was ordered.

The Vista class was an evolution of the Signature Class with now the focus on optimizing the number of balcony cabins.

1999   Competition was fierce in Alaska with Princess Cruises bringing in larger and larger ships. The answer was the Vista class; a series of four ships with 1900 guests but with the same space ratio as the S class.

The ms Amsterdam (III) was a near sister of the Rotterdam (VII) only the tone of her interiors was different and the Azi-pod propulsion.

2000   The Volendam (III) had entered service in 1999 and was followed by her sister the Zaandam (III) in this year. Also the Amsterdam (III) was commissioned, completing the R Class of four ships.

The ms Volendam (III) seen here approaching the dock in Juneau.

2001 The Nieuw Amsterdam (II) had been sold to United States Lines in 2000 and renamed in Patriot only to return after USL went bankrupt. The ship was eventually sold on and chartered by TUI for many years.

The Prinsendam (II) sailing through the Bosporus. During her far flung voyages, calling at Istanbul was a regular part of her routine.

2002   The Prinsendam (II) arrived. Transferred by Carnival Corporation from Seabourn / Cunard to HAL who needed a smaller ship for longer cruises which also able to go into smaller ports.

The ms Ryndam (III)  was the first ship to be part of the SOE program and in the Movie theatre a  kitchen was installed , called the Culinary Arts Center, where the Exe. Chef or Guest Chefs would give cooking demonstrations.

2003  The Signature of Excellence program started. This was an investment program to bring all the existing ship up to the highest standards by investing in remakes of public areas, new soft goods in then cabins and back of the house upgrades.

The Westerdam (III) sailing through Venice after delivery from the shipyard.

2004   In 2002 the first Vista class ship had entered service; the Zuiderdam (II), followed by the Oosterdam in 2003 and now the Westerdam (III) in 2004. Eventually the Noordam (IV) followed in 2006.

Another introduction  which was part of the SOE was the Explorations Cafe. Library, Reading room, Puzzle corner and Coffee Bar are combined into one Multi Purpose space.

2005 While the SOE program continued, more new ships were considered and an upgraded version of the Vista class, the Signature class was decided upon. One to enter service in 2008 and one in 2010

See here at San Diego a shore side installation provides electric power to the ship. ALL the engines could be switched off while in port.

2006   One of the “back of the House” upgrades was the introduction of “Hoteling”. When a ship was in port it could now be connected to the shore side power grid and for the duration its own engines were not needed. All ships from the Amsterdam (III) onwards were upgraded in this way.

When the company gave up the Wilhelminakade, the “Dutch Offices” left the City for awhile. When they returned the old Main office was a Hotel but space was found in the brown sky scraper to the right. Behind the rounded building (Harbour masters office) to the left is the Passenger Terminal from the old days but still in use.

2007 Windstar became less and less compatible with the core operation of the company and was sold off. Investments were made in the offices both in Rotterdam and Seattle.

The ms Eurodam first of the Signature Class sailing into Rotterdam.

2008   The ms Eurodam was dedicated in Rotterdam by HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The ship had an additional Far East themed restaurant on board and with it came the first female Indonesian employees.

The “Mix” was a cluster of three bars (Champagne, Sports and Cocktail) located opposite the shops on board which also doubled up as the Late Night Piano Bar. This is the layout on the ms Veendam (IV)

2009   As part of the SOE the “Mix” was introduced on the ships, a central public area with bars and entertainment. Computer classes were given and the facilities on Half Moon Cay were expanded.

Seen here at Warnemunde Germany, the new cabins at the stern of the ms Prinsendam (II) are clearly visible. Apart from more guests it also gave the company the change to increase  and modify the swimming pool layout, which had been a challenge until that time.

2010   The capacity of the ms Prinsendam (II) was increased with 22 cabins at the aft part of the ship and the Nieuw Amsterdam (IV) the 2nd ship of the Signature class entered service.

The Seabourn ships, apart from being smaller then the HAL ships,  also had facilities which were not possible on larger ships such a a water sports Marina in the stern.

2011   Seabourn Cruises became a daughter company of Holland America and this resulted in cost reductions as the operations departments could merge or work closer together.

The Rotterdam (VI) had been especially designed for longer cruises  with a higher cruising speed in mind and thus winter cruises from the port of Rotterdam were no problem as the ship simply raced from the wintery weather into the sun and the tropics

2012   The number of cruises starting in Europe had been expanding through the years and this year the Rotterdam (VI) sailed all year around from the port of Rotterdam on long and short cruises.

These various companies were brought together under one umbrella as their operating styles were not dis-similar although the Brands were.

2013   The HAL Group was created within Carnival Corporation consisting out of Holland America, Seabourn, Princess, P&O Australia and the Alaskan Land Operations. A new ship was ordered in Italy.

The ms Ryndam (III) and ms Statendam (V) at Keppel Shipyard in Singapore, for transformation into the Pacific Eden and the Pacific Aria for P&O Australia.

2014   Statendam (V) and Ryndam (III) were transferred to P&O Australia to make room for the new class of ships, The Pinnacle Class of which a 2nd one was ordered this year.

The other two sisters ms Maasdam (V) and ms Veendam (IV) remained with the fleet. the Veendam’s capacity was enlarged by adding balcony cabins to the stern.

2015   Re-alignment in the HAL Group continued with the creation of two branches. Brands (Marketing and Sales and related ) and Marine Services (Support, HR, IT, Nautical, Technical and related)

The ms Koningsdam. The first ship of the Pinnacle Class , seen here at full speed in the Norwegian Fjords,

2016   The first ship of the Pinnacle Class arrived, the ms Koningsdam. With a size of 99,500 tons she could carry 2500 guests. The main theme on board was music with musical art and multiple musical venues.

The new Office of the company located on 3rd Avenue, in Seattle, just one block away from the old one.

2017 Holland America built a new Head Office in Seattle, one block away from the old one, but now solely occupied by the HAL Group. A 3rd Pinnacle Class ship was ordered with a delivery date of spring 2021.

McKinley Chalet Park and resort in Denali Park Alaska. Chalets, Hotel rooms, Restaurants, a Saloon and an Outdoor Auditorium. coaches would stop her for overnight while on their tours through theAlaskan interior.

2018   The company continued to invest in Alaska by expanding its McKinley Chalet Resort hotel in Denali Park with and extra hotel wing having 99 rooms. The Nieuw Statendam (VI) entered service in December.

One of the outstanding features of the Music Walk on the Pinnacle Class ships is “The World Stage” with its 270o  LED screen so everybody in the audience can have a perfect view.

2019   In June 2019 the ms Prinsendam (II) left the company and was sold to a German Operator. On 21 November 2019 the keel of the 3rd Pinnacle Class ship the ms Ryndam (IV) was laid.

The ms Nieuw Statendam (V). Sistership to the Koningsdam and the Ryndam / Rotterdam.

2020   On 14 March 2020 the company ordered a stop to all cruise operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic and all ships were ordered to disembark their guests. The ships went into Warm Lay-up.  4 ships were sold to other operators. On 20 July it was announced that the ms Ryndam (IV) would enter service as the ms Rotterdam (VII)

The Nieuw Statendam (VI)  and Westerdam (III)  in lay up at the anchorage at Tor Bay near Torquay England. October 2020. (Photo courtesy: Mr. Ian Williams  www.iwpix.com) 

2021   The ships continued in lay-up waiting for the Pandemic to be brought under control with the vaccination programs and various countries opening their ports again.

Published 18 April 2021

Last Update 28 April 2021

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

08 July 2018; Kerkira, Corfu, Greece.

After a very windy departure the ship sailed north along the coast of the Peloponnesus towards the next island in the Ionian Sea, Kerkira. An island that is separated from the big island by a strait which is called the Steno Kerkiras. Kerkira lies on the east side of the island in the sort of curved bay. Thus a sheltered port except when the Etesian winds blow. Today they arrived late and they were not that strong at least when compared with yesterday. The port has a U shaped pier setup with the Left leg and the top part of the U being used by ferries and the outer leg by cruise ships. The docks were constructed sometime in the past and now most docks are either too short or “just fit” for the average size cruise ships of today. We were in port together with the Costa NeoReviera which was originally owned by the now defunct cruise company Festival Cruises.

The approach from the south. Corfu is also North to south located so the predominant wind blows straight down the Steno Kerkiras. the island acts as a funnel and things can become quite unhappy then. Today it was not too bad.

Because the U of the port is quite large there was a shuttle bus running from the port gate to both ships as we were docked all the way at the end of the U. although there is an airport, which sees over 2 ml. guests a year, mainly package holiday tourists, a large number of locals and visitors use the local ferry system to get to the other side or to the other islands. Hence the plethora of ferries, large and small, in the port. Transport with these ferries is fairly cheap and once you have figured out the Greek system of announcing/posting the various routes, and where on the dock the ferry is parked (which sometimes involves quite a lot of asking) you can travel all over Greece with their ferry system, including the islands far off the beaten track.

The ferry part of Kerkira. The 2nd boat on the right is one of the “fast cigars” or hydrofoils. This is a quiet moment as some ferries had already left for their day crossing to somewhere else.

Of all that floats as a ferry, what stands out most among them are the Russian Hydrofoils or “fast cigars” as I heard somebody calling them. For a while they were made in large numbers in Russia and were exported to countries close to the USSR. The Greeks seemed to have liked them a lot for the pure pedestrian traffic as there is no space for anything on board but hand bags and suitcases. They never came much further west than Greece but since some time we have had a few in the Netherlands where they run a Water Taxi system to Rotterdam Central for commuters. They are/were quite popular by those using them but not so much by those around as the wake produced would make the boats and yachts laid up along the route wobble considerably. The plan was to replace them with “less wobbly” options so they might be gone again. But there in Greece they are still everywhere to be seen.

300 days at sea. Not bad for a dog. Many a regular cruiser does not get that high in the HAL Mariner Society.

For those who cruise, know that every ship has a “Wall of Fame” where First Port Call plaques are put on display. Some are a bit naff but some are almost pieces or art and very nice to look at. The Oosterdam has a very usual one; one to commemorate a blind dog who in 2017 reached  300 days with Holland America. And counting as I recently met dog Joska (and the owners attached to it) on the ms Rotterdam in April 2018. Guide and Service Dogs are held in high esteem by us and most Captains recognize them with also issuing a medal for the dog.

The good old days. Captain Leo van Lanschot Hubrecht, Hotel Manager J.J Scheringa, dog and owner, elevated to Grand Mariner. This was before we went to medals with 100, 300, 500 and 700 days.

My records show that (most likely) the first medal/certificate issued to a blind dog was in 1992 on board the ss Rotterdam by Captain Leo van Lanschot Hubrecht. I have kept that tradition going on my ships and as most current captains have sailed with me one time or the other in the past before they became captain, they are now also continuing that tradition. But it is the first time that a HAL ship was offered a Plate to commemorate this event.

We sail from here to Kotor in Montenegro and that brings us back to the Central European Time Zone and thus tonight we go one hour back. Good planning as the sailing into Kotor is very scenic with a very narrow passage before entering a fjord or lake and then nearing the old town of Kotor which lies at the end, partly on the flat, partly against the hill. So guests can have a good nights rest and be up and about early to see the scenery.

Weather for tomorrow: 27oC / 81oF mostly overcast with a chance of showers.

15 Dec. 2016; At Sea on the way to Tampa.

Well, somebody in Seattle office must be reading my blog as suddenly Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was heard in the ship, but only in the Atrium. Some of my dear blog readers currently on board had made a “sound inspection” of all the public areas where there is Christmas music and since 2 days Bing is there. Our music does not come from CD’s but is digitally transmitted to the ship so a new file must have arrived. Now we just have to wait for the snow to fall on the ship and then we are not dreaming anymore.

The good ship ms Oosterdam is sailing today between Costa Maya and Tampa and that means that last night we sailed through the Yucatan Channel, this morning we crossed the Straits of Florida and now we are in the Gulf of Mexico heading on a East North Easterly course to the Tampa sea-buoy were we will arrive in the early morning for the 4 hour transit to the dock. The weather has been great today with the sun shining and no wind until we came north of the Florida Keys. No we have a force 4 blowing and that is normal for the time of the year.

The Oosterdam received during her last dry dock also the upgrade of interactive TV and now you can follow the whole route nicely on the screen with constantly updated navigational and weather info. While I am writing this I see on the screen that our course is 023o and our speed 15 knots. We have a humidity of 76% with a temperature of 80oF / 27oC. And the weather prediction for Tampa is partly cloudy and a very warm day again, basically the same as today.

This is going to be interesting for me as I will be leaving the ship tomorrow. This time it was nearly six weeks onboard while I normally stay for three weeks. But my school class fell through and as there was sufficient work to-do here, it became nearly six weeks and they have gone very fast. Today is my last day and all my work is done apart from sending of my final bye – bye email and packing my suitcase. Then I have the peculiar flight of going from Tampa to Toronto and from there to Amsterdam and then doubling back to England. So I am going from 80oF / 27oC in Tampa to 23oF / -5oC in Toronto to 46oF / 08oC in Amsterdam.  My hometown is located straight across from Holland so there the temperature is the same. It seems that everybody is trying to fly early for the holidays and therefore it is difficult to get more straight flights. So I am keeping my fingers crossed for fast immigration in Toronto and no weather delays so I can make my connecting flight.

Then vacation starts with being at home for the Holidays. This summer I mentioned that my focus was then on scaffolding with outside/roof maintenance of the building in which our apartment is located. The last installment of that roof maintenance will commence in May but for my winter leave the focus is on the upgrading of the 5 lifts in the building which are now 20 years old. That is going to be quite costly so I will be busy with trying to get the best value for money. Luckily the ships electricians have told me a few things to look at and to take into consideration so I am well prepared.

I am not dreaming of a white christmas but of setting it all up. Decorating trees and setting the table is my job as part of the Christmas celebrations.

I am not dreaming of a White Christmas but of setting it all up. Decorating trees and setting the table is my job as part of the Christmas celebrations.

That brings me to ending my last blog of this period. I have uploaded my tentative schedule for next year but there might be some changes even before I end my vacation. I hope to continue uploading historical material as I try to add a few things every time I am at home.

I would like to say thank you to all my readers who are (still) willing to keep up with my daily ramblings and observations. I like writing the blog and I hope you like reading it.

Happy Holidays to all on behalf of myself and my wife Lesley who always keeps a close eye on what I do and how I do it.

14 Dec. 2016; Costa Maya, Mexico.

We had a good day to day in Costa Maya, a day we shared with another 6000 guests coming from the Norwegian Jade and the Rhapsody of the Seas. All the 3 berths were full and we were once again on berth 3 which gives the shortest distance from gangway to the resort itself. On arrival there was little wind and that gave a head start as during the day the normal trade wind picked up under the influence of the sun. This wind builds up waves and those waves make the ship rock alongside the dock and if the ships movement becomes too much the ropes start breaking.  If you arrive with very little wind, then the buildup of waves has to start from scratch and by the time you leave (for us at 15.00 hrs.) the waves are not that high yet and thus the ships are not moving so much yet. During our last call, there was a weather front coming through and the last 4 hours of our call the captain had to put the thrusters and Azipods on to glue the Oosterdam alongside and reduce the strain on the ropes. Today it was a lot better. Also the Oosterdam was half hidden behind the other two ships and that helped as well.

View from the shore side of Coata Maya Pier. the ms Oosterdam was docked where the ships with the stern towards us.

View from the shore side of Costa Maya Pier. The ms Oosterdam was docked where the ship is with the stern towards us. (Photo Courtesy, Costa Maya Tours)

I am always greatly concerned about breaking ropes, especially at the bow as they run under various angles to the bollards ashore. If they snap, they can whip over the dock. Hence the bow area is roped off and local security is very good in stopping guests, who cannot resist the urge to take a bow shot, from scooting under the ropes of the no-go area.   For the aft ropes there is less of an issue as they are all under 90 angles. When those break, they break on the edge of the chock where they go inboard and then the the breaking force settles on the piece which is inboard and the outboard part falls in the water. Hence we can let guests walk on the pier along the ship to the resort.

The cruise terminal is fr far out from the main land and a shuttle service is in place over this long bridge to an artificial island with the cruise terminal.

Progresso. The cruise terminal is far out from the main land and a shuttle service is in place over this long bridge to an artificial island with the cruise terminal.

Although Costa Maya is an artificial port, conceived and built purely for cruise ship tourism, its location makes sense from a strategic point of view. There is nothing else in the area. The next three cruise ship ports, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Progresso are more than a 100 miles to the north. Cozumel is often full, Progresso has a long channel in and a very long pier to walk over as the area is shallow. Playa Del Carmen suffers from wind and current. It is not really Playa del Carmen itself but Calica a few miles to the south. Calica means gravel pit and that is what it is, a bulk carrier port for exporting gravel. Long ago they built a small cruise terminal and cruise ship dock there but it really only works for small cruise ships with a lot of maneuvering power.  When you go in you have the Gulf Stream full on the beam and thus it can be difficult to steer exactly right into the entrance. The current is strong, the entrance is small and the shallows are nearby.  Then the moment you are inside you have to make a 90o turn to starboard to the dock and the moment you do that, you get the Trade Wind full on the beam, which sets you towards the dock.  The smaller the ship, the more room you have. Carnival tried it for a while and had planned to improve the place but at the moment there is no large cruise ship scheduled there at least until 2018.

Playa Del Carmen itself has a small pier for ferries and Holland America used to stop here in the 1990’s. We then landed our tour people with a local ferry as a quick way for the tours to go Chichen Itza as from there it is about an hour with the bus inland. This local ferry then also brought them back in the evening while the ship was docked in Cozumel. Keeping the ship in position off Playa while the local ferry lay alongside was not easy due to the current and the return trip with this ferry could be really fun and games. If the wind was from the north and thus blowing against the Gulf Stream, then the whole sea surface changed into a sort of washing machine and the returning guests would have to endure a 45 minute real roller coaster ride……… with the expected results…………  Thus we gave up on that and as we hardly go to Cozumel anymore other Maya destinations such as Tikal have been introduced.

We sailed at 15.00 hrs. and around 8 pm. tonight we will pass the island of Cozumel on our portside. Normally we can just see the lights at the horizon. Tomorrow is our last sea day while the ship heads for its final port on the cruise, our home port of Tampa. Weather looks quite good, there is a frontal system moving over Cuba, but I think we will be far to the north before it reaches the Yucatan Channel.

It looks like clear skies all the way to Florida.

It looks like clear skies all the way to Florida.

13 Dec. 2016; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala.

Santo Tomas is one of those places were a canal would make the distance a lot shorter even if the distance between Roatan and Santo Tomas is only 142 miles. This is basically caused by the fact that the town is located inside a deep bay. The land is curved around it and protects the whole area from being exposed to the open Caribbean. So while we sail almost straight west from Roatan, most of that straight sailing is above land to reach the bay. Then the ship has to curve back until finally it can go south towards the dock. Just before you enter the bay the curve of protecting land is not very wide and thus a little cut –through would be possible. But looking at it economically the total traffic of ships which call at Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomas is probably not sufficient to even contemplate it.

A little cut at La....

A little cut at La Graciosa and you could quickly slip in and out of the bay.

As mentioned in my blog of the previous call, the guests here either go on tour or just wander into the terminal or visit the local town. For the latter there is a shuttle trolley service which leaves from the gangway. From the crew only those who have never been here before might go to the local town but all others who have bought the T shirt already normally stay on board. Unless shorex can organize a shuttle boat/ferry to the Amatique beach resort which is sometimes possible if the guests have not bought up all the tickets. But it is six hour happening and apart from concessions and entertainment not many crew have time to do it.

Tank entry by the rescue team taking a plank-type stretcher with them for the extraction.

Tank entry by the rescue team taking a plank-type stretcher with them for the extraction.

Certainly not when I am around and I have dreamt up yet another major training. This time on request of the engine department. Enclosed Space Rescues. The engine department often has to inspect, clean or repair tanks and these are not known to be easily accessible or easy to work in. Thus if an accident would occur it is also very hard to get the casualty out. To do an efficient tank extraction you have to train as it is a lot more difficult than it seems. Training in a real tank itself is not so easy as one has to be opened up and also nobody can see what is going on and learn from it as there is most of the time no room to stand around. To alleviate the problem of the very few being able to see something, it is better if we build a sort of mock up in an open space.

A medical equipment on standby and the medical officers giving instruction to the stretcher bearers.

A medical equipment on standby and the medical officers giving instruction to the stretcher bearers.

And thus with the aid of the five cadets on board I designed and constructed a complete tank in the Marshalling area; the open space in the ship where we normally handle the luggage and the provisions that come on board. With carton boxes, canvas, the luggage bins and some wood it was good enough for a good drill. The engineers sharpened their skills again and medical could now observe from close by what a ships tank looked like and how difficult it is to get a casualty out as the inside of a tank is normally web constructed which is needed for the strength of the ship.

Moving the Casualty from the back of the tank.

Moving the Casualty from the back of the tank.

We have of course equipment on board to help with this but you have to exercise this to ensure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together if something would happen. Enclosed space incidents are still very common in the industry and not only at sea. Workers who do not realize that in a tank there might lack of oxygen or all sorts of gasses and the work surface is seldom ideal. Thus the regulations before we can enter a tank are very strict to ensure that those who go in also come out again. A lot of extra casualties are caused because workers see a collapsed colleague inside and run in to help. Which only results in yet another casualty. Hence nobody goes into a tank for rescue and extraction without wearing breathing apparatus. The bottle on your back is very cumbersome when getting in and out but it is a life saver. We also have oxygen masks connected with a long hose to a bottle which can then remain outside but then you still need somebody else to watch over that hose so it does not get stuck behind something.

The casualty coming out. the opening is the average man hole size of a real tank. (some are a lot smaller)

The casualty coming out. The opening is the average man hole size of a real tank. (some are a lot smaller)

Tomorrow we are in Costa Maya which lies 180 miles to the North from Santo Tomas and which will be our final call for this cruise. It should be a full house tomorrow with all the three berths occupied; the ms Oosterdam, the Rhapsody of the Seas and the Norwegian Jade. Weather: partly cloudy skies, 80oF / 26oC and a gentle breeze. So it will be a warm day there.

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.

11 Dec. 2016; At Sea.

We had a glorious day at sea and the guests could sit outside to their hearts content and bake in the sun if they wanted to do so. Those who did move outside helped to ease the traffic inside a little bit as this cruise we are sailing with a full house. Although the Oosterdam has a space ratio of 44.2 which is one of the highest for the larger ships, it can still be busy. We have this cruise a real full house with every cabin occupied. Part of all these happy people on board is a large group called First Nation who have turned this into a sort of sub charter although the other guests do not notice very much of it, apart from seeing the bright blue T shirts which are being worn.  They have gatherings in the show lounge but as they show lounge is mostly empty during the day, outside the lecture hours and the rehearsals of the Cast, it works out very well for everybody.

Holland America Line has incentive groups on a regular basis, sometimes a small group, sometimes a large group which books in at 1st or 2nd sitting and sometimes there are charters which take over the whole ship. The amazing thing is, these charters vary enormously in background and focus and it indicates to me that people from all walks of life feel at home on Holland America. We have Church groups, Retails groups (selling products over the phone or franchises) Gay groups, Music groups, Nudist groups, Doctors, even once the FBI. The latter was very interesting as I did not know that the FBI also had undercover agents who did not look like anything like the image the FBI tries to project to the outside world.

Music charters are quite common and are good for the ship as well; as those guests tend to enjoy listening to music with a glass of something or the other in their hands. One such group is the Delbert McClinton charter, a gentleman who is very famous in America in the blue grass scene. They charter the whole ship and for 7 days the place is really heaving. I had them for the first time on my Veendam in 2006 or something and that was so successful that they have chartered a HAL ship every year since. It was interesting to be part of it as I had never seen a jam session with six Hammond Electronic Organs.   They have their next charter here on the Oosterdam on Jan. 06, 2017 and there is a whole array of musicians and bands coming with him. Basically continuous music for 24 hours a day. I do not know what the public is now but back in 2006 they struck me as people who had woken up in 1968 and had decided to stay there. I could not agree more with them as some people had a real good time in those days so then why not continue them?

It might not look that impressive but there is 3 to 4 bar pressure on the water.

It might not look that impressive but there is 3 to 4 bar pressure on the water.

Today, I threw one of my specials again a practical Damage Control Drill for the engineers. I offer this every time I am on board a ship as a practical drill for this is hard to achieve. You cannot just poke a hole in the ship and then start practicing. Thus the trainings and drills that are being done on board are often just a simulation of the real thing.I can afford to spend a few hours rigging up something more realistic and thus the Chief Engineer went or it. With the aid of the Bo ‘sun and his sailors we built a wooden wall against a scaffolding on the forward deck, rigged up four fire hoses, and presto you have a hull with ingress of water.

Starting the work in full gear. But quickly the coats came off as it was too warm. Helmets stayed on to protect the eyes from sold water.

Starting the work in full gear trying to install Domes over the holes in the hull. But quickly the coats came off as it was too warm. Helmets stayed on to protect the eyes against salt water.

We have a lot of material on board to help stopping, plugging or reducing the ingress of water but there is no strict science of how to deal with it as every situation is different and every hole in the ship will be different as well.  Thus the Leader of the attack team (officially Damage Control Team) has to think outside the box on how to use whatever he/she has available or can get from somewhere in the ship. Damage Control falls under the focus of the engineering teams as it is dealing with steel, broken pipes and electricity. However this morning the deckies wanted to have a go as well, get soaking wet and spending a good 90 minutes in the sunshine to do a bit of training to plug holes and to find out how it feels to have to work against 200 tons of water per hour ingressing into the ship.

Why do humans lie so much to mess around with water? These are all grown-ups, married with wife and children, but they went for it.

Why do humans like it so much to mess around with water? These are all grown-up men, married with wives and children but they went for it.

Tomorrow we are in Mahogany Bay, Roatan for a full day at the local resort. According to the cruise schedule we are the only one in port but you never know for sure as it is always possible for another ship to be deviated because of whatever reasons. We will be at 07.00 at the pilot station and should be docked 45 minutes later. Expected weather: wind, sun, clouds and rain; all expected in one day. Still it will be warm: 80oF / 27oC and a 75% chance of showers.

10 Dec. 2016; Key West, Florida, USA.

Today we had a bit of luck and we were a bit unlucky. We had luck with the weather. This morning while at sea, it was gloomy, windy and rainy. Not exactly the weather that you want when going on a cruise and when going to Key West. But the closer we came to the pilot station the more it improved. The frontal system which caused the cold weather yesterday in Tampa just moved on along in time and the sunshine followed nicely. So by the time we docked the sun was shining and it kept doing so for the remainder of the day. By lunch time we were dealing with a balmy 76oF or 24oC and hardly any wind.

Our unlucky part was that we had to dock at the Navy dock although there were no other cruise ships in port. Both Mallory dock and B pier were empty. And that had to do with this sunset business here in Key West. Docking at Mallory and B pier is allowed as long as you do not block the sunset. If you do you need a permit and you only get so many a year and only if the Navy pier is already occupied. We already have been blocking the sunset at B pier for two calls and then the natives get restless. Last cruise the Eurodam was at the Navy dock and thus we lucked in. This time we are alone and thus the captain had to follow the rules and dock at the Navy Pier.

This is the outer mole and also the route the shuttle train has to take to get to the gate.

This is the outer mole and also the route the shuttle train has to take to get to the gate.

This makes it a little bit more complicated for the guests. What we call the Navy pier is really a complete little port which was once in daily use by the Navy. The United States Coast Guard still has a presence here and they have an old Coast Guard Cutter laid up in the inner basin. We docked at the outer mole which protects the inner basin from the swell of the open sea. To get out of the dock area you have to go all the way around the basin. That is quite a walk, even more if you attempt to do this by Rollator.

Shuttle buses, shuttle trains and trolleys; whatever was needed was at the gangway today.

Shuttle buses, shuttle trains and trolleys; whatever was needed was at the gangway today.

To solve this issue they run little sightseeing trains between the ship and the dock entrance around the basin. Then from the dock entrance it is about 10 minutes to be completely back in the center of the town. Not such a bad walk as you pass quite a few mansions from the 1920’s and related structures. All standing along a road you might not have ventured on if you had been at the other dock. Did the captain have any other options? Not really. Our sailing time is 18.00 with all on board at 17.30 hrs. Sunset is at 17.39 hrs. This meant that the ship would have had to leave at 17.00 hrs. at the latest to ensure that with swinging around, it would have been out of the line of sight by the sunset. That would have meant an all on board time of 16.30 hrs. Given the fact that during the last 2 calls we did not sail on time due to (very happy) stragglers returning late we might not have been clear before the magic moment of sunset. So we would have had to set our departure time even earlier or have left with –straggling -guests still standing on the dock side.

Arriving earlier is also not an option as the time schedule between Tampa and Key West is really tight and we cannot leave any earlier from Tampa as guests are boarding late and we are loading supplies etc. Doing the cruise the other way around (Key West as a last port of call) is not an option either, as we would then have full United Stated Customs and Border Protection which would reduce our time in port as well. The ship would have to be cleared first with everybody presenting themselves to the Inspecting Officers. So the Navy Pier was the only option and thus we docked there and can now stay until our official departure time. If we make that time remains to be seen as it can be expected to have “happy stragglers” again.

This cruise we do the West Carib loop again. Approx. 330 guests are doing a back to back and will thus have done both loops by December 16.

This cruise we do the West Carib loop again. Approx. 330 guests are doing a back to back and will thus have done both loops by December 16.

Yesterday we also had a change of Command. Captain Robert Jan Kan went on leave and will return 3 months from now. (See the Captains schedules on under Current Captains. You can also find his biography there) the alternating captain for this ship is Captain Michiel Willems who will now be on board for the next three months. Under his command the good ship Oosterdam will leave Key West this evening and then sail into the Caribbean Sea heading for Mahogany Bay in Honduras. We are expecting a sunny day tomorrow but after that it is a bit uncertain again.

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