- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Shipboard Info (page 1 of 5)

17 November 2019; Fort de France, Martinique.

I do not know who currently makes the Google weather forecasts for this area but it looks like that they take guidance from the cruise brochures – where the sun always shines – and they are not doing it from the weather observations. As mentioned yesterday we were promised a rain free day, and it might have been rain free somewhere, but not in Martinique. Rain cloud after rain cloud kept rolling in. Luckily no torrential rains but enough of a drizzle and you still get wet. Positive thing here is, the rain is not cold and once the rain shower is gone, things dry up quite quickly. And later in the day it remained mostly dry, although dark clouds kept threatening. Continue reading

12 November 2019; At Sea (day 7)

Today is our last and final day at sea. Yesterday afternoon and evening the ship found the occasional bump in the road when a complicated wave hit the hull. These waves/swell were mainly caused by the confused wave pattern which was the result of the influence of the “Cape Hatteras wave field” and what had been there before and what was caused by the wind shifting 180o during the day. But for the rest a nice steady ship and all was well in the world. And with those seas around us we are now approaching South East Providence channel, where we will be in the lee of the Bahama Islands by about 1800 hrs. Then early tomorrow morning we will enter the Straits of Florida and aim for a 04.00 Pilot station time. And that means to be docked 45 minutes later.  Very early in the morning but the captain wants to be early to have as much time as possible to prepare for what is going to be a very crazy day. Continue reading

11 November 2019; (Day 6)

I am a happy man as the weather is following the forecast again so my predictions are still coming true. By noon time the swell was almost gone and now we are back to a breezy North Atlantic but with very low waves. Once in a while we still catch a small “bump” in the road but if there is anyone on board who would complain about this making them sea sick; then my suggestion to them is to attend Happy Hour. A few discounted drinks (with free snacks in the Grand Dutch Café) and you walk exactly in sync, with the minute movement of the ship. The wave chart below gives blue colors again and that means that all is well in the world. Please note that in the area around Cape Hatteras to the North West from us the next wave field is building up again, in the same way as ours did three days ago. But by the time that this new wave field would merit any focus and consideration we will be docked in Fort Lauderdale. As we have now 37 hours to go from the moment I am writing this and that includes 1 more hour back tonight to get on the Florida time zone. Continue reading

06 November 2019; At Sea (Day 1)

I always love it when the weather follows the weather forecast as we then do not look so stupid if things do not happen the way we announced it. But it took about an hour to sail clear of Madeira as it is quite a big and long island and then indeed the ship started to move again as predicted. Also as predicted during the course of this morning the seas abated, the wind changed direction and the movement of the ship got less pronounced. By lunch time there was only an occasional twist to remind us that we are still at sea. And even that got less in the course of the afternoon. Now we are looking forward to a number of nice and quiet sea days and our only concern is that in two or three days Cape Hatteras will churn out a new depression and if that happens and it goes a bit to the south then our last day we might see some choppy seas again. On the other hand, most of that day we will be in the lee of the Bahamian Islands so we should be all right. Continue reading

31 Oct. 2019; Civitavecchia, Rome, Italy.

Although the Europe season is drawing to an end, that is the high season, as some cruise ships will cruise the Mediterranean all year around, it was still busy in port today. Azamara Journey, Nautica, Brilliance of the Seas and us made sure that all the cruise docks were full. Only the “over spill” dock, the container terminal on the other side of the port was not used and thus a container ship was alongside. We were the only ship who had a change over today and thus we were parked at the big cruise terminal. This one has two jet walks as at the airport so guests can go ashore without being touched by the elements. Those elements were quite benign today and the chance of showers forecasted did not materialize. At least not over the port. If there are more cruise ships in port with a change over, then the port authority uses the pecking order system and the largest ship gets the best terminal. There are two more terminals, which are much smaller and are basically semi-permanent marquis structures. For the container terminal which has nothing, they bring in a large marquis which can accommodate 500 to 600 people. Nowadays a necessity as all those boarding people have to shuffle through security screening and that is not very nice if it rains. And coming off the ships, the suitcases should preferably stay dry as well. 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

11 October 2019; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

We had very good weather for the time of the year and while in port the guests could see the trees changing color all around the ship.  With us in port and at anchor was the Norwegian Dawn and thus we had about 4500 cruise guests ashore to enjoy Prince Edward Island. Although only an island it is big enough to handle this number of visitors without it feeling too crowded.  And as the sun shone all day, the place should have been full with happy campers. Continue reading

23 July 2019; Glacier Bay, Alaska.

With overcast skies, but dry weather, we sailed into Glacier Bay. The lack of glare from the sun gave excellent visibility and the Rangers were able to point out all sorts of wild life that otherwise might have been hard to see. Mountain Goats (conveniently grouping in clusters) were clearly visible against the grey stone of the mountains and whales were frolicking in the middle of the middle bay while we were sailing up towards the Glacier. On the way up we look for mountain goats by sailing along a steep cliff side and on the way down we sail past a small island which normally is inhabited by sea lions. Often Stellar Sea Lions which are quite rare. With our ships we normally only see them when sailing past Cape Spencer (so this morning) and when we are going to Valdez. So the rangers are quite excited to point them out to everybody on board. Continue reading

18 July 2019; Skagway, Alaska.

Skagway lies at the end of the Lynn Canal which is a long and narrow fjord that pierces deeply into the mountain ranges on the border of USA and Canada. As a matter of fact it is only a short drive from the port up the road to get to that border. I did that once, a number of years ago, with a friendly Alaskan pilot who had a car there and who wanted to show me a regular border crossing and not the big work that I was used to when coming into the USA or Canada to join the ships. As everybody knows everybody here the CPB officer was more than willing to have a chat as business was slow. All he processed thus far in the morning, was one RV, two cars and a Moose. The appearance of the moose was a fairly regular occurrence but most of the time the animal avoided the road and crossed the border through the greenery, today it had attempted to do so by road and that had caused some divertissement when it came to the barrier. But the CPB Officer was getting ready for the arrival of the Alaska Marine Highway ferry that arrives around 13.00 hrs. in the summer and sends ashore a whole convoy of RV’s and trucks that come up from the lower states and then go on into the interior.  Those going north are not a problem for the Americans, they let the Canadians deal with them; those coming south and are not a problem for the Canadians, they let the Americans deal with them. And by ignoring the Moose the whole world was perfectly in balance. Continue reading

14 July 2019; Vancouver, Canada.

It is my personal opinion that for a compact large city, Vancouver is one of the nicest ports to sail into, together with Venice and maybe Naples. With compact I mean, you enter and there is constantly something to see. New York is also impressive with the Verrazano Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan but it is all far apart.  Same for San Francisco, again an impressive bridge, followed by Alcatraz but is takes place over a considerable distance. Vancouver only takes 30 minutes from 1 mile before the Lions Gate Bridge to the dock and in those 30 minutes there is a constant impact on the senses. I have never heard anybody complaining on the bridge about sailing into Vancouver while normally, a long sail in gives rise to grumbles among the navigators; and they are very good in grumbling. (Not to say moaning). Continue reading

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