- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: ms Veendam (page 2 of 3)

18 Feb. 2020; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

It was a beautiful day, sunny not too warm but a little bit windy. As a sailor I would like to have seen a bit less wind at the anchorage but luckily we had shore tenders today as we were the only ship. And for the guests it did not matter at all as the beach and most of the facilities are on the lee side, so it was perfect and the breeze kept the temperature down. We had all the shore tenders available because we were the only ship. If there is another HAL ship in, then the biggest ship gets the two large shore tenders and the smaller ship (and the Veendam is always the smaller ship)  the two smaller shore boats but often then has to augment the tender service with its own ships tenders. I would not be amazed if the company will keep investing in more ship – to shore transport so it will get easier and easier all time.  But today we were all by ourselves and thus not a worry in the world. Continue reading

17 Feb. 2020; Sailing around Cuba.

When going from Grand Cayman to the Bahamas, Cuba is always in the way. And every time I wonder, if there would be a canal that would cut straight through the center of Cuba, North/South, how many ships would use it?  Looking at the traffic at Cabo Maisi, there is a lot of potential but it would come at a cost and then sailing around Cuba would most likely be cheaper. But there is no canal, so we sail around, and this morning around seven we came out of the Caribbean by sailing through the Wind Ward Passage. This is with Cuba (Cabo Maisi) to our portside and the west point of Haiti to our Starboard. Haiti does not really have a “most eastern point) that really sticks out. Its coast is more ragged and has multiple bumps which protrude into the ocean. So regardless of whether we are on the Cuban side or the Haiti side, the sailors speak about rounding Cabo Maisi. Continue reading

16 Feb. 2020; Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

The rain forest did its job much better than I had hoped for and on arrival it looked more like the autumn weather in Alaska than Caribbean sunshine. It was windy and rainy but not cold of course. Luckily once the sun got hold of the clouds, they burnt off and the sun came through. Unfortunately my prediction was better than the official forecast so we had a shower during the day. Not nice as you get wet, but not as bad as it could be, as the rain is warm.  Although one gentleman was upset with the rain, as he was ashore in a group and they all decided to take shelter in a shop. It turned out to be a jewelry shop……… do I need to say more? As the rain shower took a while, the shop attendant was able to work her charm and the local economy was stimulated with a considerable investment. Continue reading

15 Feb. 2020; Georgetown, Grand Cayman.

By 0700 hours we arrived at the anchorage of Georgetown Grand Cayman with good weather and what would turn out to be a glorious day. The two other cruise ships were arriving at the same time each going to their designated anchorage. Sort of, as the Aida Diva decided to stay on the engines. We got somehow the impression that the captain there was on his first visit to Grand Cayman and had never experienced anchoring on the ledge and then letting the wind keep you off the island. So they hovered close by. No problem for us, as long as each ship stays at their own anchorage area as it is all quite tight here. My old school buddy from 1976-1981 thinks that I am / we are completely nuts to do this sort of things as, according to him, nobody in his right mind would rely on the wind not to run aground. I think from my side that he is completely nuts by sailing on a container ship with only 20000 boxes to talk to, but sailing box-boats is also a special skill, so each to its own. Continue reading

14 Feb. 2020; At Sea.

Sailing today through some gorgeous Caribbean weather, the way things should be. Late this morning we left the Straits of Florida behind us and curved around Cabo San Antonio into the Caribbean Sea. While in the Straits of Florida we had the current against us, although by hugging the coast of Cuba it was not much as the axis of the Gulf Stream was much more to the North. Then we sailed around  Cabo which we could only see on the Radar as there is a Vessel Traffic Separation scheme around the Cape which is designed to keep the ships apart. We are southbound and thus we have the downward lane to the west, far away from land, while the northbound ships have the upward lane to the East.  In the past ships tried to cut the corners here, sometimes with alarming results and in the late 70’s some wise people at the IMO (International Maritime Organization ) decided to put highways at sea in to keep the opposing flows separate. Not only here but at most bottle necks around the world. Once around the corner we headed on a South Easterly course into the Carib and now we have both wind and current against us. But eventually after we turn around at Ocho Rios we have it all behind us all the time. Continue reading

13 February 2020; Key West. Florida.

By 8 am. we were docked at the Navy Pier, this is the most southern pier of the 3 piers in Key West. On the B pier we had the Norwegian Sky and there was nobody at Mallory Pier, which must have pleased the visitors as they like an open view from Mallory Square. It would have been possible to dock the Veendam at Mallory but it would have been very tight as the Norwegian Sky is quite a long ship.  Thus the bow of the Veendam would almost have been inside the hotel on the corner to make it possible. Hence the better solution is to be at the Navy Pier where there is plenty of room. The negative part is that the Navy Pier is a long way away from down town, and you are not allowed to walk on the pier as it is still a working Navy/USCG pier. Continue reading

12 Feb. 2020: Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Today it was a Holland America day here with only us and the Koningsdam in port. She docked at Pier 26 which is the Holland America Terminal and which is considerably larger then terminal 19 or 20. It would even be a tight fit for the Koningsdam to be alongside pier 19. But the handy size of the Veendam fits nearly everywhere and thus we went back to terminal 19 where we were last cruise as well. Easy for the guests who only sailed with us for one week, as most of them had parked in the garage just across the road. So none of the confusion we sometimes have when due to the planning of the harbormaster and the congestion of the port a ship ends up at a completely differrent place. That does not happen that often on 7 day cruises, but it does happen on 9, 10, 11 and 12 day cruises were every so often you hit the weekend cycle of the other ships and they then go to their regular berth. I have had it in the past that one week, we were  at berth 19 and 11 days later we were at berth 4, which is at the other side of the Harbor basin. A logistical headache for the shore team was the result. Of course it always works out, but if one can avoid it……………… Continue reading

11 Feb. 2020: At Sea, Day 2.

We lost our cork screw motion during the night, courtesy of the swell changing to a direction a bit more onto the beam and thus the stabilizers could do their job. To the relief of some of our guests, but the swimmers did enjoy the slow rolling of the pool when swimming. When the pool water gets too wild we close the pools but when it is only a gentle roll it is quite pleasant to be lifted up by the water and to be lowered again. Not for nothing are wave pools ashore very popular, there they have to be constructed with complicated equipment, here on the ships we get them free of charge whenever Mother Nature feels like it. Continue reading

10 Feb. 2020 at Sea Day 1:

We have two sea days to get back to Fort Lauderdale and today is the first one. We are sailing with the wind and the sea and thus it is perfect weather on deck. Although one guest was complaining that it was now too warm because the breeze was gone. I tried to explain the concept of following wind but that was too nautical a topic to really understand. So I tried to explain it by using a cabriolet car as an example because then you have the same effect on land. But the comment was “Don’t like open top cars”. So I did not get very far. But most guests enjoyed the fact that they were not blown all over the place, when stepping out of the shelter of the superstructure, as happens when going the other way. Continue reading

9 Feb. 2020, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

And thus we sailed out of San Juan, north and east of Puerto Rico and then south again between the east point of Puerto Rico and the west point of St. Thomas.  This is called the Anagada Passage and is one of the entrances to the Caribbean Sea from the North Atlantic. Other well-known ones are the Windward Passage (Cuba / Haiti), Mona Passage (Dominican Rep / Puerto Rico) and the Sombrero Passage (Virgin Islands / St. Maarten)  Tomorrow evening we will use this passage again to sail out in the North Atlantic Ocean and then head back in the direction of Florida.

Before I continue I have to correct a blog entry. I mentioned the Yacht Eclipse yesterday as being owned by the late Paul Allen of Microsoft Fame. A good reader of this blog sent me a comment (thank you) advising that the owner of the Eclipse is the Russian Oligarch Abrahamovich. This is of course correct and I should have remembered that as the Eclipse was the yacht that pinched my anchorage at St. Barts on Boxing Day when I came there with the Prinsendam in the grey mists of time. The full story is somewhere in annals of this blog either 26 December 2010 or 26 December 2011. As a result we had to deviate to Antigua. So my apologies for the confusion caused. Continue reading

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