- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: ms Zuiderdam (page 1 of 7)

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

23 October 2019; Oranjestad, Aruba.

As is not unusual with the hurricane season coming to an end there are still tropical storms forming in the North Atlantic Ocean just above the Caribbean Sea. They are not strong enough anymore to reach hurricane status and they also do not reach the Caribbean Islands. They normally turn north and then follow the Gulf Stream to Europe where on occasion they create havoc in England where it is then realized that the even a country where it rains a lot is not always ready for a wet present from the Caribbean Hemisphere. What it does do here locally is not “enhance” the Trade Wind. In a simple way I always explain it as “a tropical storm development will suck the wind strength out of the Caribbean”. The weather guru’s will have a very technical explanation for this with moving high and low pressure areas but the end result is the same. The Trade Winds reduce in strength. And that is very nice as it means that instead of having 25 to 35 knots of wind on the portside hull and balconies, it was now barely 20 and thus in port barely 10 to 15 knots as the island creates some lee for the harbor. Continue reading

22 Oct. 2019; At Sea.

Normally we spend two days at sea to get to the Dutch ABC islands but you can do it in a shorter period, if you leave on time from Half Moon Cay and keep the pedal to the metal. This means for us about 19 knots and will result in an arrival time of around noon time tomorrow at the Oranjestad pilot station, and then we will be docked about 30 minutes later.  ABC islands, stand for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao the three Dutch islands of the Venezuelan coast. (There is also a Klein (=s mall) Curacao and Klein Bonaire but those are two very small islands and are not in inhabited. The 3 islands form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands but each has a different arrangement with the mother land. While Aruba is only nominally connected with the Netherlands, Curacao is somewhere in between and Bonaire is still very closely aligned. But they run most of their affairs independently and there is no completely free travel / option to live everywhere. If that would happen that there would be a fair chance that a lot of the islanders would come to Holland as there is more and higher paid work there and a lot of retired Dutch people would settle down permanently on the islands turning it into a big retirement village with no doubt a large hospital as well. So the economies are kept sort of separated and that is much better for the future of the islands. Continue reading

21 October 2019; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

We were the first regular HAL ship that is calling at Half Moon Cay this year. This does not mean that no other ships have been here, or will be, but each company has its own routines and we apply our routines rigorously also to island practices. So today was the first time all HMC facilities were run through their paces in accordance with HAL standards. Tomorrow the Carnival Magic is visiting the island but they do their own thing. (And I have no idea what that is, apart from they use all the facilities as well). Ships from other brands of the Carnival Corporation can use the island as long as they do not send a ship while we are there. Thus tomorrow Carnival Cruise Lines can visit and apart from our island, they also use Princess Cays on occasion. Carnival does not have its own private island but the borrowing system works quite well as the cruise schedules are inter checked with all the brands to ensure that there are no bottle necks anywhere caused by ourselves. What the other companies such as RCI and NCL are doing is be doing is beyond our control so clogged up ports are still possible but the Corporation tries to avoid it. Continue reading

20 October 2019; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

We are always confused on the ships of where we are exactly going. The whole cruise world speaks about Fort Lauderdale where the cruise starts or ends but it is of course really Port Everglades. So I try to explain to everybody that Port Everglades, is what it is, the Port to the Everglades. It is part of Broward County which has a major who is also the boss of Port Everglades. (Please do not tell the Harbor Master) Fort Lauderdale is a separate entity and has its own mayor. For most of the officers on board who cannot get their head around it, the fact that there are two mayors normally makes the penny drop. For the rest it is a bit of a mix. Although the Sheriff of Broward County runs the security in the port we also see police cars from the Ft. Lauderdale police force cruising around but I have no idea if that is for work or on the way through. But no doubt they work together when somebody crosses the dotted line. I remember once, in the gray mists of time, one of our crew members became a little bit too happy in a pub. So happy that he thought that the waitress was in love with him. She was not so she called the police. Up showed Ft. Lauderdale police and then at the security checkpoint of the port he was switched from a police car to a sheriff car. In those days things were quite simple, the sheriff simply asked the captain to do something.  And the captain did something. He was booted off the ship in the next suitable port when he was sober again. So maybe he is telling his grandchildren now: Grand dad was once arrested by the police and then released by the sheriff and he only had to change cars to do this. Continue reading

19 October 2019; At Sea, Entering the Straits of Florida.

The weather system from the North East Gulf of Mexico came over during the night and by late afternoon we had some considerable rain and wind while the system moved over the Florida Straits. Looking at the USA weather forecast and reports it was not expected that this system would create much turmoil while going overland so hopefully that turned out to be the case. The area where the system was traveling through had been hit hard by a hurricane the year before and now they got a storm coming from the other side. Not much fun. Continue reading

18 October 2019: At Sea.

As was expected, the bad weather passing the New York area did not really affect us and the ship was travelling very quietly with no movement what so ever. And that is the way we like it. Cruise ship weather. It was not cruise ship weather completely as it was overcast but the winds were following winds and thus 18 knots less in velocity on the ship than what was really out there. Thus people could be on the outside decks with only feeling a gentle breeze while the real wind was 35 knots or so. Continue reading

17 October 2019; New York, USA.

We had a bit of a bumpy night and a slightly moving ship. What “slightly” was depended on the view of the guests as some spoke of a heavy storm and some dismissed it as an occasional “bump”. I have been assigned a cabin above the Azipods this time and the only thing I had to do was to move the coat hangers in the closet as they rattled on occasion. That is not a regular ships noise and thus it will wake me up. We did have quite a bit of wind during the night with gusts to over 60 knots but as we were heading into the first arrival of the storm, the storm had not been able to generate very high waves and thus the ship did not provide the roller coaster ride, something some guests had been afraid of. Continue reading

16 October 2019; Newport Rhode Island, USA.

By 10 am this morning we were at anchor at Newport. Further out than we really liked as the Riviera had the best spot because she had arrived earlier.  It was sunny but there was a strong breeze blowing, stronger than we had hoped for as the wind was only supposed to get really going in the early evening. Referring to my blog of yesterday: the weather was not really organized. Still the circumstances were good enough to operate a tender service and thus the ship got things on the road. We had even drafted in a local tender, the Amazing Grace and later another on, the Katharine, to cover the long tender distance as good as possible. Still it was slow going for a while, due to the tender distance but also due to the wind which forced the tenders to be extra careful. But still it worked. Continue reading

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