- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Shipboard Info (page 1 of 7)

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

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

14 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

We live in a dynamic world and the moment we think all is going (relatively) well, the next thing happens. Last night I had barely posted my daily blog and the message from Stein Kruse came in that the whole fleet was going into a voluntarily lockdown for 30 days at the end of the current cruise. That means that our Noordam and Veendam are already out of service and that other ships are following step by step, when their cruise comes to an end. We, the ms Rotterdam are the exception, for the length of time we will still sail, due to the fact that we are making a Panama Canal cruise and we have to get to the other side. So the plan at the moment is to continue the cruise as scheduled and take it day by day, to see what the Virus is doing, to see what the Medical Profession is advising and to see how the politicians are reacting to it. Luckily the ms Rotterdam is safe and healthy and that is the most important thing. Our crew is sanitizing so much that “the paint is coming off the walls” and nobody has any symptoms or feels ill. Continue reading

13 March 2020, At Sea Day 2.

With a continuation of calm weather we sail down the Mexican Coast for our second day. Tonight we go “around the corner” at Cabo San Lucas and then by 06.00 hrs. we will be at the pilot station. We are still healthy and safe although we have all stepped our procedures to stay so. For the guests on board, especially for those with a long time cruise experience, the visible measures taken look very much as the way we deal with periods when the Noro Virus is prevalent. Although the viruses are not the same, the way they are transmitted are identical and thus we have imposed similar protocols.  How things will progress is any bodies guess but we are still sailing and that is for us the main thing.  As is known, the Westerdam has cancelled the remainder of her Far East season, as a precaution, and is now on the way back to America. Other companies have laid up some or all of their ships, so we can be very grateful that we are still able to offer the cruise that the guests have looking forward to. For those who still work and only have limited time it is very good thing that we can still sail. Continue reading

12 March 2020; At Sea, First day.

Because we are doing basically the same cruise back to Fort Lauderdale we also have two sea days after leaving San Diego in the same way as before when arriving. For our cruise see chartlet below. How this cruise and future cruises will develop is everybody’s guess. It all depends on what happens with the Corona Virus and what wise men & women will decide about what is best. No doubt everybody is following the news hour by hour as things keep changing all the time. Carnival Corporation is constantly reviewing the situation and we get updated all the time. Processes are refined by the day, depending on what the Experts learn or what the political situation requires. Yours truly has now also been affected by the situation as well, in So far that I cannot travel around the fleet for the time being. Continue reading

09 March 2020; At Sea.

With the Pacific Ocean behaving in a very “pacific” way, all was well in the world. The ocean surface was flat enough for the guests to pick out all the wild life around the ship and there was quite a lot as we are not too far from the shore today. We are sailing along the coast of Baja de California or the Californian Peninsula which has the large water gap of the Sea of Cortez that separates it from the Mexican Mainland. Plus we are right on the Whale – Highway between this area, Hawaii and Alaska. Whales swim from Hawaii over to the area south of Cabo San Lucas and then eventually go north to the feeding grounds of the Alaskan waters. Because they are congregating here, think in a mindset of several “whale lanes” coming together at a round-a-bout and then all going up the north lane; so this were you have the best sightings until you go to Alaska. Just before noon time today, some humpbacks gave a spectacular show on the port side of the ship, much to the delight of our guests.

The general status of the current of California and higher up. It brings cold water to the warmer waters south of Cabo San Lucass.

Unfortunately we passed most of this south point area during the night and missed the chance of seeing the waters around Cabo San Lucas. Where apart from the whales, there are also large shoals of Blue Marlin present. Attracted by the meeting of the cold and warmer ocean currents which brings up nutrients from the ocean depths and these nutrients and small animals form the start of the food chain for all sorts of other fish. Same as the whales, also the blue marlin is a seasonal visitor which goes deep ocean for most of the year.  Around this time of the year it is high season around Cabo San Lucas when the Marlins are on the coast. The Operators have a regulated catch and return policy which means the fish stocks are not affected.  Because we passed by at night we did not see all the charter boats going out and coming in, and I am quite happy about that as they do not always follow the rules of the road when regular traffic is coming through.

Every captain is a happy camper of he can ride the red current while going up the coast.

Then as soon as you are away from the area, the fishing boats disappear as they are all day boaters, the whale sightings get less as the area where they swim is increasing, and we get the regular ocean traffic back which is on the way from North America to the Panama Canal or vice versa.  Nasty thing for us here is, that most of the time we have the California current against us which brings cold water down from the Gulf of Alaska to the Cabo San Lucas area. Hence the reason why the whales like to travel this route; it is nice and cold.  Thus most of the time we are battling against this current on our way to San Diego. But not always; sometimes the warm counter current (which is caused by the colder water pressure coming down and replacing / pushes away the warmer water) lays a bit further off shore and we just catch it. I have never been able to predict exactly when this happens as no doubt a lot of local circumstances play a role here. Fact is, when the warm water current moves, we get more fog around the area near Cabo.

The Mercator Projection which is used by most display charts. USA and Mexico are almost the same.

Tomorrow we have our 2nd sea day and we will still be traveling along the coast of Mexico. Not many people realize how long (North/West) Mexico really is and part of that is due to the false representation on the geography maps that we use. Most of them use a Mercator projection, which is only 100% correct at the point where its projection touches the Earth’s globe. The further away from this point and the larger the distortion. That is why Greenland looks so very big, although being of a reasonable size, it does not go so wide at the top. A better projection is the Peters version, which gives the continents in the right size / context to each other but is distorted in the way it is represented as a flattened globe. The Mercator version distorts the closer you come to the poles and thus Mexico looks a lot smaller than the USA and Canada.  You only really understand this when you are on a ship and you travel for days with the same speed. Then you realizes it takes longer to sail the west coast of Mexico then the west coast of the USA.

The Peters Projection. The Mexican west coast is now suddenly a lot longer.

Tomorrow we are at sea for our 2nd day. Still along the Mexican coast. Then by 04.00 on the 11th. We enters USA waters and sail for the San Diego Pilot station. Weather has been forecast to still be good and thus we should have a nice final day of the cruise.

Continue reading

06 March 2020; At Sea.

As mentioned yesterday, we prepared ourselves for the Tehuantepeccer storm that would be blowing this morning. And we prepared with an abundance of caution. And it was a good thing we did so as this was a real nasty one. We always expect 50+ knots of wind and heavy seas (away from the coast) but it blew a lot harder than 60 knots at times. The Captain reported that the highest wind gust observed was 88 knots and periods of a sustained wind of 70 knots between 05.00 in the morning and 07.00 in the morning. That is Hurricane force wind strength. Seas were observed between 12 and 18 feet at times. So much wind blowing caused the ship to list somewhat, although the engineers pumped everything they had from the low side to the high side to minimize the effect. Continue reading

04 March 2020; Corinto, Nicaragua.

This is one of the trickiest ports to get into. On bad days there is a long and deep swell running over the large area of shallow water outside the entrance which makes it hard to keep the ship steady, even with the stabilizers out. Then there are two turns while sailing in, and at the 2nd one, you can have current from 3 directions at the same time. Something that asks for careful planning. But the company is now coming to this place since 2011 with the cruise ships and thus we have a lot of experience to expect the un-expected. And there is always something.  Also today. With the Corona virus a concern of every health authority, Nicaragua has decided to do a special health check at the sea buoy before sailing in clearance is granted. And thus four doctors boarded the ship and had a discussion with the ship’s Doctor to see what the situation was on board the ms Rotterdam. Well we are completely clean, not even a little bit of Noro virus on board, and after a short time the medical quartet disembarked again and gave permission for the pilot to board. They themselves then continued with a visit on board the Seven Seas Splendor which has been following us since the Panama Canal. They were with us in Puerto Caldera and now also here in Corinto. (Maybe they do not know where they are going, so they are just following us? So I would not be amazed if they pop up as well in Puerto Quetzal) Continue reading

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