- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Staff & Crew (page 2 of 9)

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

07 March 2020; Manzanillo, Mexico.

Sailing through a smooth Pacific Ocean, as smooth as I have ever seen it, we approached Manzanillo. It was smooth enough today to see the birds sitting on the water and the turtles peddling by.  Or better said surfing by if they were close to the ship. When I first went to sea I always worried about turtles getting in the propellers until I started watching them to see what happened when they came by. Well, what happens is that they are pushed aside by the bow wave. Turtles, due to their shape, are like corks on the water; corks that can swim. So when they are swimming on a ships course line, they are pushed aside by the pressure wave that is generated by the bow. That bow wave spreads out further and further away from the ship’s hull and the turtles follow, bobbing along on the crest of the wave. By the time they near the stern of the vessel where the propellers are, they are well clear. It might be a bit of a startling experience for Mr. or Mrs. Turtle to be lifted up by this un-expected wave and carried sideways but it does ensure that they do not come to harm.  Bulbous bows were invented to reduce fuel consumption but they also work very well as a gigantic turtle mover. Continue reading

05 March 2020; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.

Just after sunrise in very hazy weather and it being nearly wind still as well, did the good ship Rotterdam arrive in Puerto Quetzal. The haziness indicated that it was going to be a very warm day and it was. Only in the late afternoon did it breeze up and thus we did have a bit of cooler sea air circulating over the deck. Since last summer, the local authorities have repaired the cruise terminal and thus could we dock there again. This cruise terminal is made up of fixed bollards and dolphins with a floating pontoon in the middle. And cruise ship captains are very hot on getting this dock as it means that the gangway always has the same angle because the pontoon goes up and down with the dock in the same way as the ship does. This dock has been made for the average cruise ship length and a smaller ship, such as our S class fits perfectly, and the same goes for the Vista Class. The R Class, named after the ms Rotterdam, is an in between length and that means that the Gangway location is not ideal for being landed on the pontoon. Thus we had to relocate the Gangway to the Marshalling area which is normally for luggage, stores and spare parts. But it is amazing what a few sheets and curtains can do to perk up a work area to a 5 star cruise ship lobby.  The Seven Seas Splendor, followed us again and had to dock with the cargo ships. I really am getting the idea that they just follows us, as we seem to know where we are going. See if we can confuse them tomorrow. 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

01 March 2020; Panama Canal.

We have a schedule, it starts off with the best intentions and then something un-expected happens.  We did arrive at 05.00 and in the end we approached the First locks, the Gatun locks at 07.00 hrs. but by the time we came out, there was a challenge in the works. Ahead of us was the Wind Star from Wind Star cruises which once in the past belonged to Holland America, until it was decided that sailing motor yachts for an incentive market were not really compatible with cruise ships in the premium markets and thus the company was sold off to an equity fund. (Or some similar sort of investor). But sailing ships have very high masts. And she only fits under the Bridge of the America’s at low tide. (That bridge is at the Pacific side and the Pan American Highway passes over it) Once the convoy starts going, then it cannot stop anymore and for some reason there was no option to put the Wind Star alongside somewhere until the tide was right. So we had to wait from some 30+ minutes. Apart from her, there was one other cruise ship in today, the Seven Seas Splendor, which was “one behind” meaning there was another ship in between, in this case a Car Carrier, or “Auto Boot” in the Dutch Language. Continue reading

23 February 2020; Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas.

St Thomas considers itself the cruise capital of the world, due to the number of cruise ships calling here. But today there was little of that noticeable as we were the only ship in Havensight. For the shop keepers disappointing as the area is geared up to handling 10 000+ guests a day and then only having 1200 is not very exciting. On the other hand you can give some of your shop staff a day off before they roll in again in their thousands.  But at least for us an empty pier worked very well, gangway right across the main gate into town, what else you ask for. Continue reading

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

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