- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

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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

30 July 2020; Rotterdam VII

I normally do not post during my leave but I am making an exception as what was announced today is very important for the company but also goes right to the core of my belief that strong roots make it easier to go forward. Hence a small blog  with the news, although, no doubt, the news will come from everywhere tomorrow.

Holland America has made the decision to rename our newest ship the ms Ryndam  still under construction, to ms Rotterdam. Thus the Ryndam (IV) as was originally the plan, is now becoming the Rotterdam (VII).  And this is possible as the Rotterdam VI is leaving our fleet.  I am not that easily excited about what is normally announced but this is special. The name Rotterdam, after our homeport the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, has been in our fleet for nearly our whole history.

Rotterdam I  1871 – 1883

The ss Rotterdam I.






Rotterdam II 1886 – 1895 (she was later renamed to Edam when the next Rotterdam came into service)

The ss Rotterdam II






Rotterdam III 1897 –  1906

The ss Rotterdam III






Rotterdam IV 1908 – 1940

The ss Rotterdam IV






Now we get a gap due to the war and the flagship of the fleet became the ss Nieuw Amsterdam (II). But there were tentative plans for a sistership and if the war had not happened that sistership might have been built and guess what the name would have been ??? !!! After WWII the company needed time to rebuilt the fleet and also had to deal with the inroads of the airplane on the North Atlantic routes. Hence it took until 1959 before there was a new Rotterdam. A multiple ship as she was a Traditional North Atlantic Liner but at the same time a modern cruise ship who could change roles, just by opening a few doors. And thus ready for extensive cruising during the off-season in the early years and later permanently.

Rotterdam V 1959 – 1997  (she is still there as a great Hotel in Rotterdam)

The ss Rotterdam V






Rotterdam VI 1997 – 2020

The ms Rotterdam VI






Rotterdam VI 2021 and onwards

The ms Rotterdam VII






As you can see from the list above it is also not the first time that we renamed a ship in relation to having the Rotterdam name available for the newest ship of the fleet.

See below the press release of this morning 30 July 2020 which can also be found on the regular Holland America Line blog.

What might be of interest, if you have an facebook account, our Brand Ambassador Seth thought it was a good idea to get me involved in this whole naming business.


Hopefully we will be able to get the ships out of the warm lay up, not too far in the future and I can start blogging again.

Best regards

Captain Albert

Today’s Press Release:

In honor of some of the most memorable ships in Holland America Line’s nearly 150-year history, the premium cruise line is changing the name of its newbuild from Ryndam to Rotterdam and designating it the new flagship of the fleet. The seventh ship to bear this historic name, Rotterdam will be delivered one year to the date on July 30, 2021, pushed back slightly from its original delivery of May 2021 due to the global health situation.

When Rotterdam is delivered from Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, it will spend the summer exploring Northern Europe and the Baltic on roundtrip cruises from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Guests and travel advisors with clients who were booked on the ship’s Premiere Voyage in May and itineraries through July 30 are being contacted with rebooking options.

“The first ship for Holland America Line was the original Rotterdam, the company was headquartered in the city of Rotterdam for many years, and the name has been a hallmark throughout our history since 1872 … so clearly the name is powerful and symbolic,” said Gus Antorcha, Holland America Line’s president. “With the current Rotterdam leaving the company, we knew we had a unique opportunity to embrace the name as our new flagship and carry on the tradition of having a Rotterdam in our fleet. Seven is a lucky number, and we know she’s going to bring a lot of joy to our guests as she travels across the globe.”

The History of the Name Rotterdam
Holland America Line’s first ship was Rotterdam, which sailed its maiden voyage from the Netherlands to New York Oct. 15, 1872, and led to the founding of the company on April 18, 1873. Rotterdam II was built in 1878 for British Ship Owners Co. and purchased by Holland America Line in 1886. Rotterdam III came along in 1897 and was with the company until 1906. The fourth Rotterdam joined the fleet in 1908 and also served as a troop carrier when World War I ended. Following the war it made regular cruises from New York to the Mediterranean.

Rotterdam V, also known as “The Grande Dame,” set sail in 1959 and began sailing transatlantic crossings with two classes of service. It later converted to a one-class ship in 1969. She sailed with Holland America Line for 38 years until 1997, including several Grand World Voyages, and currently is a hotel and museum in the city of Rotterdam. Rotterdam VI, the most recent to cruise for Holland America Line, was introduced in 1997 and the first ship in the R Class.

Inaugural Season to Explore Mediterranean, Baltic and Norway
Cruising aboard Rotterdam VII begins Aug. 1 with the ship’s seven-day Premiere Voyage departing from Trieste, Italy, to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, with port calls throughout the Adriatic Sea and southern Italy. The ship sails Aug. 8 from Civitavecchia on a 14-day cruise through the western Mediterranean and on to Amsterdam.

From Aug. 22 through Oct. 10, the ship will sail roundtrip from Amsterdam on three seven-day itineraries to Norway, one 14-day to the Baltic and one 14-day to Norway, Iceland and the British Isles. A trans-Atlantic completes the inaugural Europe season with a 14-day voyage from Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

To accommodate guests booked on cancelled itineraries of Ryndam from May through July, Nieuw Statendam cruise itineraries also will see some changes to match up as much as possible with former Ryndam sailings.

“Guests and travel advisors will be notified today of this news and coming changes to current itineraries,” added Antorcha. “We ask everyone, though, to please bear with us just a few weeks for all of the details as we rebuild itineraries and put the finishing touches on several desirable alternatives. We will follow up with specific details very soon so everyone knows their options.”

Guests booked on the originally scheduled Premiere Voyage will be rebooked on the Premier Sailing for Rotterdam, departing August 1, and will receive a $100 per person shipboard credit. All other guests who were booked on impacted Ryndam or Nieuw Statendam cruises will be automatically rebooked to a similar future cruise date during the summer at the same fare paid. Guests will receive a $100 per person shipboard credit for cruises 10 days or less and $250 per person for itineraries of 12 days or more. Guests are asked to wait until they receive updated booking confirmations in the next several weeks before contacting Holland America Line for additional changes to the booking.


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 March 2020; At Sea off the Mexican Coast …… Day 8 without guests.

I have mentioned it before in my blog, it seems that the company every time does something as soon as I have uploaded my blog for the day. Yesterday was no different. Barely was the world appraised of the fact that we were still happily alongside in Puerto Vallarta for the for-seeable future and we were gone. The Captain received notice that help was needed for one of our ships, medical help, and thus Rotterdam, Oosterdam and Eurodam went to battle stations. Medical crew and supplies were to be gathered and then the Rotterdam being the fastest ship in the fleet was assigned to carry out this humanitarian mission. Continue reading

22 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 8) … Day 7 without guests.

Another good day in Puerto Vallarta. Although we are marooned on the ship as we cannot go ashore, we are still much better off than other people in the world and thus you will not hear any complaints from us on board. Yesterday was Saturday so no doubt a lot of Holiday Makers will have gone home and I do not think that new holiday makers will come out.  But many Mexicans might still be on the way home so the planes are still flying. Continue reading

21 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 7) … Day 6 without guests.

Another day with good weather and alongside in Puerto Vallarta. We are congratulating ourselves for the fact that we could go ashore for the last seven days, while our sister ships were at anchorage or are still trying to land their guests. Our Amsterdam, which aborted her world cruise is currently landing our guests in Fremantle. Although Australia is also in lockdown the local government has decided that as the ship does not have any Covid-19 cases on board, there was no problem to bus everybody directly to the airport and back home. Our Maasdam and Zaandam are still looking for a port and might, I say might, have to come to the States before that is possible. That gives the challenges with provisioning and the Zaandam went to anchor at Valparaiso and although also Chile and Peru are in lockdown, it was allowed to use a (small) shore boat to get 9 containers with fresh produce and other essentials to the ship. So the Captain had 150 crew working in relay from the tender platforms to carry everything by hand out of the boats and then at once to the cold and freezer rooms to ensure that it did not spoil. With the current situation at hand everybody has to be creative and make things work. Luckily ships crews are great in improvising and have faced bigger operational challenges in port and thus always works out one way or the other. Continue reading

20 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 6) … Day 5 without guests.

This morning we returned to Puerto Vallarta after the Chief Engineer did all the things he had to do during the night and we were docked again by 09.00 hrs. We will now stay alongside until “further notice” as they call it. The Europa arrived this morning and the Norwegian Joy is still on the schedule for sometime late this afternoon.. We are now also expecting the Eurodam and the Westerdam but when is not certain yet as the Eurodam is approaching at slow speed, I think they are travelling on one pod and the Westerdam is still far away. The Oosterdam is still at anchor at Cabo San Lucas. (Have a look at this website, https://www.cruisemapper.com/, it gives the locations of all the cruise ships. Our thoughts are at the moment with the Maasdam and the Zaandam as they have challenges with landing their guests as most countries are now in lock down and are only letting their own citizens back in. And thus the office is now hard at work to find for these ships a port where the guests can still reach an airport for their final repatriation.   Continue reading

19 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 6) … Day 4 without guests.

Another dry and sunny day in Puerto Vallarta and we are still happy alongside the dock. Looking ashore it does not look that the town is overly concerned about what is going on in the rest of the world as there are no cases here, nor any in the direct area. There is some reduction in traffic which has mostly to do I think with the slowdown in Holiday Makers in the area. With the USA in lockdown, people on vacation go home but no new people are coming out. But life goes on while we all keep adapting to the changing circumstances. Change will continue as everybody is in the process of fine tuning with what they can do. It is a bit as if we re-inventing the wheel. Once the realization is there that there is a wheel, then the first version is square, then it becomes round, then somebody puts hard rubber around it, then the air tire comes along and slowly buts steadily the perfect wheel emerges and is put in use. To stay with this metaphor I think we are just in the phase from the square wheel to the round wheel. Continue reading

18 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 5) … Day 3 without guests.

Another day in Paradise (?) as we are still happily alongside in Puerto Vallarta. The sun is shining again but it is not Hot, Hot; just warm, and the sailors working outside are really happy. Good weather for painting.  Everybody is now getting into the groove of giving the ship a good shine and everything I touch has just been cleaned or is about to be cleaned. I have been nearly run over by two vacuum cleaners (normal hazard for a HAL ship) but as there are no guests on board the vacuum pilots (GPA Housekeeping) are a bit more exuberant in their swings and moves than normal. I did get a full blast of shampoo spray as Housekeeping is tackling the carpets on Deck 5 today (Casino, Mix and Hudson room) No problems with that, but a shot of this stuff turns my brown shoes white and thus I had to run and find tissue paper.  The engineers have started on their drain and pipe project and thus caused a panic with housekeeping as they switched the water off. And without water no cleaning. Continue reading

17 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 4) …. Day 2 without guests.

The crew is slowly coming to grips with the fact that there are no more guests on board and there will not be any for the fore-seeable future. Everybody knows that and every realizes that, sort of. But now on a sub-conscious level it starts to sink in as well. Especially for the Hotel Department, the presence of guests is the Raison- d’etre of their existence and that is gone for obvious reasons. And it is not because of dry-dock. Although we are grabbing the chance to do a lot of work. The crew suddenly realizes that they can slow their pace down for a few minutes, that they get extra time off and that we are together in a waiting game. Take a race driver his/her car away, take a yachtsman his sails away and you have the same effect as taking the guest away from a Holland America Line crew member. Continue reading

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