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
Today we are sailing in the North Sea and are on our way home to Amsterdam. This is our final port of destination and the end of the final cruise of the ms Prinsendam. Voyage 307 will come to an end and with it 17 years of cruising under the Holland America Line banner. All guests and 270+ of the crew will disembark but a small skeleton crew will sail her to Hamburg. There she will be handed over in Dry dock after the new owner has checked if all the propellers are still there. The last of the crew will then leave on the 7th. of July. The ship will receive an extensive refit and come back into service in August. Not too much will change. The Casino will go out and be replaced by 10 new Guest Cabins and the Explorers Lounge will receive a new bar area. Continue reading
Today we are in Bergen after having sailed the Inside Passage between Flam and Bergen with very sunny weather. Although we had a bit of mixed weather this cruise, the sun has been coming out at the right moments with the extra bonus of having sunshine in Honnigsvag. So a very good last cruise for our elegant explorer. While I am writing today’s blog, the weather in Bergen is following the weather forecast. It was sunny in the morning, overcast in the afternoon and it looks like rain in the evening. Weather forecasting for Bergen is not always easy as the port is surrounded on three sides by mountains so only when the weather comes in straight from the west, you can be spot on; with weather from other directions it can be a bit hit and miss as the (rain) clouds can bounce of the mountains bringing more and or stop the rain from coming over. But today it sort of worked out in accordance with the forecast plan. Continue reading
Yesterday we sailed from Geiranger around 16.00 hrs. and made a 360o swing stop at the Seven Sisters waterfall on the way out. As part of the goodbye celebrations for the ship, the company had arranged for a deck party with complimentary drinks. So the deck area around the Lido Pool was packed with guests enjoying snacks such as Dutch Bitterballen and Indonesian Sate and free drinks.
Party on deck with all the flags out, drinks, bitterballen and above it all the Seven Sisters Waterfall
With the ships officers and (guest) entertainers circulating among the guests a good time was had by all while watching the impressive scenery. It was a bit strange for me as I was always on the bridge when we were here but now being a guest entertainer for this cruise, my place was in the bar. I did not need much time to adapt myself fully to the new circumstances…………………. Continue reading
By 07.00 hrs. the ms Prinsendam was at anchor and commenced tender operations. Geiranger does not have docks, except for the small local ferries which maintain a regular ferry service inside the fjord. You can drive all around the fjord, sometimes along the fjord, sometimes high up over the mountains but it takes a lot longer than rolling your car on the ferry. I do not know if it is cheaper to do so but it certainly is quicker as long as the ferry timings connect with your personal schedule I suppose. There are several anchorages available and today all but one were occupied. There is also one mooring location on the buoys very close to town and that is normally reserved for ships willing to pay and use the Sea Walk. This is a floating bridge system (The Sea-Walk) which abolishes the need of running tenders. It is a beautiful solution for the very large ships but there is a price to pay. Today the MSC Poesia was on these buoys and she was also the largest ship in the port with an on board capacity of 2550 lower beds or a maximum of 3013 when all beds are full. Continue reading
Today we are sailing Southbound in the Norwegian Sea. And the weather is not too good but also not too bad. With not too good I mean that for the time of the year it could be full summer in this area with sunny skies and warmer temperatures and that is not the case but it is also not too bad as we do not have storm and a bouncing ship. We have some (cold) wind and some waves but apart from a gentle movement at times the ms Prinsendam is as steady as a rock. And thus we have nothing to complain about.
Geiranger Fjord. We will follow the dotted line all the way to the end. Geiranger pilot station both serves Alesund and the rest of the fjord.
Due to angle of the coast, the Prinsendam stays far offshore and will eventually come closer to the coast again when getting near Geiranger Fjord pilot station. That will be 2 am in the morning and then it is another 60 NM. to the end of the fjord. As we cannot race with 20 knots full sea speed through the fjord it will take much more than two hours to get to the end and thus we expect to be at the anchorage position around 07.00 hrs. Continue reading
Last night we sailed through the Inside Passage from Tromso to Narvik. There is an outside but the inside passage is shorter, more sheltered and much more scenic. About 3 hrs. down from Tromso the ship has to go under a bridge and for that you have to be the size of the Prinsendam or smaller. So the big boys have to go back outside if they would have wanted to go to Narvik. That is not often the case and it is also not that often the case with other cruise ships. This because Narvik is not really a cruise port and that is the reason why Yours Truly has not been there either. Nor my Lord and Master, and she has been out there for a long time as well on (really) small ships and she did not make it here either. But the ms Prinsendam is the Elegant Explorer and keeps going to ports to offer the guests something different, even if it is not the wildest thing in life. I am happy as I put another “dot” on my world map at home. Continue reading
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
The wind turned to the North during the night and although that did not help with the outside temperatures, it did do wonders for the visibility at the North Cape. Seeing something here is always hit and miss with my experience being about 50/50 for seeing something or not, either the base of the Cape and /or seeing the top. But when we arrived at 08.30, it was sunny, it was bright, and it was clear. We could see the top with only a little bit of haze around the Globe Statue.
The top of the North Cape from the ship . Even the Globe Sculpture / Statue is clearly visible.
So the Captain swung the stern of the Prinsendam towards the Cape so everybody could have a good look. I was happy with a quick photo from my balcony as how many times can you look at the same Rock? From there the ship continued and sailed around the northern edge of Norway into Honnigsvag which is located in a V shaped entrance quite well protected from the winter weather. Not that it does not get cold here. It must be very cold here in the winter as now on summer’s day, the temperature only just reached 7oC/45oF; due to a northerly breeze blowing while there was not a cloud in the sky. Continue reading
Today is our sea day to get to the North Cape and Honnigsvag. The weather followed the weather forecast and it was nice, quiet and dry for most of the day. In the afternoon we got a bit of motion of the ocean courtesy to a weather front behind us which is creating some waves but the Prinsendam is a good surfer and thus the dis-comfort is very minimal. We are on average sailing a distance 12 miles from the shore. Partly because the dotted line between the pilot station of Trondheim and where we go around the corner of the North Cape makes it so, but also partly to stay out of coastal waters. There is the 3 mile zone (full territorial waters) and we try to stay out to avoid the local rules; and there is the , 12 mile zone, where we stay out of if possible as here the international regulations might vary from country to country. The latter can be quite complicated and brings headaches to every captain. IMO (International Maritime Organization) sets the standards that are approved by every member. But the regulations are allowed to be “amended by the local administration”. So a measure of a Liter of paint in Europe might be a Gallon of paint in North America, and a Jin in China. To avoid going mad and/ or making mistakes we try to plan our courses outside the 12 NM. Continue reading