- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Tag: Captain’s Log

Captain’s Log: Prinsendam’s Chief Engineer Celebrates 40 Years With HAL

On 3 May 1971, Mr. Jaap Wisse joined Holland America as an electrician on board the Nieuw Amsterdam II. He was promoted to Chief Engineer in May 1990 on board the ss Rotterdam (V) and celebrated on 3 May 2011 his 40 years with the company. The ship organized various functions to honor this achievement. The letter of congratulations from Holland America Line President and CEO Stein Kruse was read aloud during the High Mariners party in the presence of all the 300+ day Mariners on board. I hosted a cocktail party in my quarters and a dinner was held for the engine department and other invitees. Jaap’s career spanned a period that included the transition from trans-Atlantic sailing to full time cruising and the subsequent growth of the company. Forty years of faithful and dedicated service to ONE company is an enormous achievement and therefore we should recognize and honor Jaap accordingly.

p.s: See also Captain Albert’s blog 6 may 2011

Special presentation for Jaap Wisse (second from the left) during the Mariners party.

Continue reading

Captain’s Log: A Major Donation in Manaus, Brazil

On December 10, the crew of the ms Prinsendam donated over 40 boxes with pillows, bedspreads, curtains, personal clothing, housekeeping items and medical materials to two good causes in Manaus. Our first donation took place in March of this year, when we donated bathrobes and children’s clothing. That was followed by our most recent donation that grew into an excess of 40 boxes.

In the past month, Holland America Line has been upgrading the ms Prinsendam’s guests cabins with soft goods. As we were going up the Amazon during that same period, we were able to donate the replaced items to these good causes. All of the items went to the children’s home of Lar Batista Janelle Doyle (wwww.larbastistamanaus.com.br) and a retirement home called Fundacao de Apoio ao Idoso Dr.Thomas, two well-known organizations in Manaus.

Hotel Manager Francois Briarda, myself, Human Resources Manager Mike Willock and the representatives from the children’s home.

Continue reading

Captain’s Log: A Special Donation in Barcelona

As part of the continuous upgrade of the Prinsendam, the ship received 320 new cabin chairs during the call at Barcelona on 15 November 2010. The new chairs have a slightly higher back but most importantly are more fire retardant. Chief Officer Ryan Whitaker, in charge of interior maintenance, asked the agent in Barcelona whether a charity would be willing to take the 320 old chairs coming of the ship, which were still in good condition.

The charity that responded was La Nau, which specializes in collecting non-food materials for the socially excluded. Items obtained are cleaned and repaired and then forwarded to welfare organizations. Thus retirement homes, orphanages, night shelters, etc., will now all benefit from our gift. As can be seen from the photos, Housekeeping and the Deck dept. set up a system whereby the old chairs were removed from the cabins and unloaded in the morning and the new chairs loaded and brought to the cabins. Before departure all guests had a new chair to sit on. The carton was recycled on the dockside at the same time and thus did not have to come on board.

At Barcelona, Spain.

Albert Schoonderbeek is master of Prinsendam.

Captain’s Log: Maritime Academy Donation

During the January 2010 dry dock, the ms Prinsendam received a new GMDSS system (emergency telecommunication system for the bridge) and a new steering system, gyro compass and auto pilot. Normally, the old systems are recycled for scrap. As the Prinsendam would be calling at Vlissingen, the Netherlands, during the summer season, the idea came up to donate these items to the local Maritime Academy.

During the next six months the bridge team collected and kept all the old charts, nautical books and other related items that would be of use for nautical students. On 20 July 2010, the ms Prinsendam visited Vlissingen and all that was collected was handed over to the lecturers of the Maritime Academy.

Recycle team, from left: S.E.H. Officer Willem van Woerkom, for environmental and compliance; 2nd Officer Navigation Simon Allcock; 1st Officer Joris Poriau, a graduate from the Maritime Academy Michiel de Ruyter of Vlissingen, and 4th Officer Adam Gardner, assistant navigation officer.

Captain Albert: 06 November 2008, Roatan … nearly

Captain Albert SchoonderbeekCaptain Albert Schoonderbeek

Roatan is an island off the Honduran coast and Honduras is neighboring Guatemala, so the trip from Santo Tomas to Roatan was a short one. By 06.30 am I was laying off the pilot station with the ship, only to be advised by the ships agents that there was still unrest on the island. Yesterday there had been protest gatherings and road blocks been setup on the island by the local population. There was an argument between them and a utility company over the fees. Meetings had been taken place during the day and evening and we had high hopes that come the morning, all would have been resolved.

This was not the case. I discussed the issue with the agent and decided to wait until 0800, to see if we could get a better picture of what was going on, on the island. By 8 am. the agent advised that the police were clearing the road blocks but that there were still many unhappy protesters around and that there would be the chance of new protests. The authorities strongly recommended that the Veendam would not call at Roatan today, as they could not guarantee the safety and security of our guests. That left me no other option than to cancel the call. I know that I would have 1200+ unhappy guests on board but it is beyond the question to let guests go ashore and then to find them embroiled in a local dispute. It is not my job to provide CNN headline news with fresh material. It is my duty as a captain to ensure the safety and security of my guests at all times, whether on the ship or ashore, as long as the latter is within my capabilities.

Thus I spun the ship away from the pilot boarding area, where we had been floating for the past 1.5 hours and went on our way. As I now had a lot of time on my hands, I decided to go sightseeing. Making a bad thing less bad; which cruise guest will ever get the chance to do a circumnavigation of Roatan Island, unless they have their own private yacht? A bit of a unique experience. Later in the day it transpired that the local utility company had been privatized and had raised the prices 3 to 4 times and that got the Roatanians up in arms.

Roatan is a long and fairly narrow island. It is the top of a under water mountain range and the shore rises steeply out of deep water. One mile from the coast it is over 1500 feet deep, half a mile from the coast and the ship can run aground. Thus the Veendam leisurely sailed around the island until 14.30 in the afternoon at an average distance of about 1.5 miles; giving the guests a good look at the various little fishing villages, secluded villa’s and resorts.

Then we continued at a slow speed heading to the North West to Costa Maya, where I will arrive at the scheduled time of 8 am tomorrow. Due to the fact that Roatan is located fairly off the beaten track, there is no other port that I could have quickly sailed to, to give the guests an alternative to enjoy, provided there would have been a berth. With cruising so popular, the docks in the various ports have to be booked months, sometimes years in advance and that makes deviating not an easy solution.

In the mean time I was keeping a close eye on our Tropical depression number 17, which in the course of the night got upgraded to Tropical storm Paloma. It is expected that the system will intensify even more and might reach hurricane status. However the estimated track is still veering away from where we want to go, so things are looking good.