- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Staff & Crew (page 3 of 9)

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

12 Feb. 2020: Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Today it was a Holland America day here with only us and the Koningsdam in port. She docked at Pier 26 which is the Holland America Terminal and which is considerably larger then terminal 19 or 20. It would even be a tight fit for the Koningsdam to be alongside pier 19. But the handy size of the Veendam fits nearly everywhere and thus we went back to terminal 19 where we were last cruise as well. Easy for the guests who only sailed with us for one week, as most of them had parked in the garage just across the road. So none of the confusion we sometimes have when due to the planning of the harbormaster and the congestion of the port a ship ends up at a completely differrent place. That does not happen that often on 7 day cruises, but it does happen on 9, 10, 11 and 12 day cruises were every so often you hit the weekend cycle of the other ships and they then go to their regular berth. I have had it in the past that one week, we were  at berth 19 and 11 days later we were at berth 4, which is at the other side of the Harbor basin. A logistical headache for the shore team was the result. Of course it always works out, but if one can avoid it……………… Continue reading

12 Dec. 2019; Georgetown, Grand Cayman.

Thus today we arrived in Georgetown, Grand Cayman and here we have to anchor or drift. There are only two small docks for the local cargo ships that call here and I doubt if even our Seabourn ships would fit in. But there was a small cargo vessel alongside and thus it was not only cruise ships. There were supposed to be five of us. NCL, RCI, Carnival, MSC and HAL. The first 4 are regular callers and thus they were assigned the 4 anchorages and because we are only coming in once in a while would have to drift further out. For reasons not entirely clear the MSC Armonia cancelled the call and anchorage number four (which is the closest to town) was vacant. Although we are too big to be safely at anchor here, we still had the chance, and used it, to poke the nose as far forward as possible to reduce the tender distance into the port. I think it reduced the tender distance by at least 5 minutes and that is 50% of what it could have been. Grand Cayman has been debating for at least 10 years about putting a cruise ship pier but it gets delayed and delayed so for the time being we stay at anchor or drift around. Continue reading

08 December 2019: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

The end of an old cruise; the beginning of a new cruise. This is cruise 045 of the Nieuw Statendam since she left Civitavecchia on 05 December 2018. So the ship is now just over a year old.  Voyage numbers meant something in the past when most passenger ships would make journeys of roughly the same length. Those days are long gone and now a ship predominantly assigned to short cruises will clock up a much higher voyage total than ships assigned to long voyages. Thus could it be that the Veendam had cruise 996 last week and the Amsterdam was at cruise 474. Courtesy of a World Cruise every year. We are not making a world cruise this week but a seven day to the Caribbean. A different cruise than last week and so we have over 200 CVG guests on board who were on their 2nd cruise, or even more cruises in a row. Continue reading

07 December 2019; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

The weather forecast that promised us nice weather yesterday, is what we got today, and thus it was a good day. We were the only ship in and thus it was an even better day. There was just a gentle breeze blowing as we are sandwiched again in between various weather systems laying off the East and West Caribbean systems that will not bother us but helped with keeping the Trade Winds down to something very nice and gentle. Continue reading

06 December 2019; At Sea.

We are sailing back the same way as we went to the East Caribbean, outside the Bahamas, in the North Atlantic Ocean and right inside the Bermuda Triangle. The sea is a bit choppy as Cape Hatteras has yet turned out another 3 day cycle special and this one did not go directly to the North East but more straight across and thus a bit more swell is reaching our area than was the case when we were going southbound.  We do not notice it very much but if you pay attention to the movement of the ship it rides as if it is going over a lot of very small bumps. No rolling, no pitching, just little bumps. Courtesy of this wave pattern mixing up with remnants of older wave patterns. Overcast skies and rain showers made for a day that was not “very exciting” outside. But the good news is that, tomorrow is going to be a sunny day again and today was the day to explore the ship as it is the last sea day of this cruise. Continue reading

05 December 2019: Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

The weather did what it was supposed to do, follow the Trade Wind rule and have the wind blow from the East. Thus the dark clouds that gathered during the night time (see my Caribbean cloud story from a few blogs ago) dissipated with the sun warming up the atmosphere and we had a glorious Caribbean day. Quite warm but the Trade Wind did blow through the port and that made it bearable. We were in port together with the Norwegian Bliss (4990 guests) and both ships docked at Havensight: that is the downtown cruise ship dock. Otherwise known as the pier of the West Indian Dock Company.  So together with our 2500+ guests there were about 7500 guests ashore which is nothing compared to what St. Thomas can handle. Put a few RCI mega liners in and you go well over the 10000 for a regular day. So it was a nice and quiet day for St. Thomas. And no traffic jam to and from downtown around the bay Continue reading

03 Dec. 2019: Grand Turk Island, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Under a beautiful sunny sky we arrived at the dock in Grand Turk as part of a mighty convoy of three ships filled with eager beach go-ers. Apart from us there was the Carnival Elation and the Crystal Symphony.  There is only one dock for two ships and apart from the fact that the larger ships normally have docking preference, own ships go first as well, and thus the Symphony had to go to anchor. As mentioned before, anchoring at Grand Turk is a mixed blessing as the area is so exposed to the wind. Exposed to any wind direction so you have to have a lucky day. The Symphony was lucky today and although there was a bit of wind, wind force 2 breezing up to 4 during the day, the ship could maintain a good lee and thus they could be part of the invasion of Grand Turk. Continue reading

30 November 2019: Key West, Florida, USA.

Promptly on time the Nieuw Statendam arrived at the Key West Pilot station at 06.30 in the morning. We had an hour back last night, and by 06.30 when the Lido opened, the place as already heaving. So there was great interest in, first in the food and then the sailing in. Quite a few people had forgot to set their clocks back; with one lady complaining why we had to go to “funny time” and then back again to normal time. Well if Caribbean Time is “funny” time then I wonder what she would make of West European time, which is 4 hrs. more “funnier” than Caribbean time, plus that we do not do am. & pm. But run the 24 hrs. Clock. Which the States calls Navy Time. But at least it meant that everybody was up and about for CBP immigration inspection which everybody had to see, including my good self as I am that most complicated of person who is a crew member but travels on a “Guest” visa. So I had to show my face to the CBP officer, to make sure that my face belonged to a passport and that the passport belonged to me.  Once that was done all was well in the world. Continue reading

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