- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Category: Technical (page 1 of 8)

04 December 2019; San Juan, Puerto Rico.

San Juan is one of the more exciting ports for the guests to sail into as you sail past the old town with Morro Castle right on top of the entrance. It is also exciting for the captain as it can be a very difficult port to sail into if there is a strong wind blowing. A strong wind can push up a strong current as well and suddenly your ship is not going where you want it to go, if you are not paying close attention. That situation gives rise to discussions among the captains about do we pick up the pilot outside or inside?  If you pick up the pilot outside, then you get extra experience on board and extra local knowledge and that is good. But the San Juan pilot station is right in the final approach to the entrance and thus you have to abort your approach, make a lee, pick up the pilot, speed up again and try to find back your balance on wind and current and that is not good. 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

02 Dec. 2019: North Atlantic Ocean

As explained last cruise, getting to Grand Turk on time means that we have to go north of the Bahama bank or otherwise arrive about 2 hrs. late. In case of bad weather that might be the only choice but if it would be such bad weather that we had to do that, then that weather would also laying over The Grand Turk and Caicos Islands and then we might as well not bother at all. In that case we would continue to San Juan and we would be able to offer a full day and evening there, instead of an Afternoon arrival as we have on the schedule now. But the weather is really nice, if a bit windy and we are happily on our way. 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

27 November 2019: Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos Islands.

Last week I had to moan and groan about the weather guru’s in the area of St. Thomas who did not have a clue what they were doing but in this area the forecast was spot on. The sun quickly burned all the early morning clouds away and it was a warm and sunny day. Both: Very Warm and Very Sunny. We were the only ship in port today as the dock can take two cruise ships. Even if two mega liners are in and offload 4000 guests each then the resort can take it quite well although it is full then. Today with only 2500 from our Nieuw Statendam there was oodles of space everywhere and even the shuttle bus system to Cock burn town could cope with the traffic.  Cockburn town is about 1.5 miles away and although you can easily walk it, it is not a pleasant walk in the burning sun. I wished all the sun worshipers the very best but I stayed happily inside in the A.C. Most guests only went for a few hours, either in the morning or in the afternoon and long flows of family’s (in various states of “happiness”) came back between 1300 and 1400 hrs. It is going to be mayhem later on at the Dive-Inn, New York Pizza and the Ice cream stand. Continue reading

22 November 2019; At Sea.

While going south in the beginning of this cruise we had the option to go above the Bahama Bank or to go under it, staying North of Cuba.  Now there is no option, we have to go into the open North Atlantic Ocean and sail north of the Bahamas as Half Moon Cay/ Little San Salvador Island is one of the islands at the Northern edge of the Bahama Bank.  If it would be very bad weather on the North Atlantic, the captain would go south, and then we would have to miss Half Moon Cay as the schedule would be too tight. But with bad weather on the North Atlantic you would have to cancel HMC anyway as it is very exposed to that Atlantic weather. Although the ship is a bit lively today due to a wave pattern left behind by another Cape Hatteras special from a few days ago, combined with a strong breeze blowing, we are still very lucky as by the end of next weekend the weather gurus are predicting a lot of turmoil on the middle Atlantic and those wave patterns will make any boat rock that would be outside the Bahamas. Continue reading

19 November 2019; Castries, St. Lucia.

We were told that we were the only ship in Castries but it turned out that there was a second one, a small one, the Hamburg. This is an expedition ship sailing for the German Market. Although everybody can book on it, but it is sort of important that you speak German. With 15,000 tons and 420 guests she started out life as the Columbus C for the German company Hapag-Lloyd in the 5 and 6 star segment. Now she is owned by an investment company and chartered by a company called Plantours. Because of her small size she can get to a lot of places other ships cannot including sailing via the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Great Lakes and the Corinth Canal.  The pilot parked her downtown thus leaving space for a cargo ship to come in as well. (And to please the shop keepers at the cruise terminals of course) Continue reading

15 November 2019: At Sea (day 2)

We are in perfect vacation weather. At times there is hardly a cloud in the sky, the sea is deep blue and the temperature is made pleasant by the wind on deck. That also makes it dangerous as with the breeze you do not feel the sun burning on your skin and then it goes wrong quickly. Hence the captain keeps hammering on ‘sunblock, sunblock” during the Voice from the Bridge. We will find out tomorrow how many did not listen. My experience is that there will be quite a few. Some because they do not listen or believe anything, some because they know what they can take at home and do not realize that the sun is slightly different in intensity over here than at home. And to my utter amazement they are not always first time cruisers.  Today I also found out that we have a beach on board. I do not know where, but through the corridor marched this morning a child of 3 or 4 with spade and bucket on his way to the beach. He is a day early, but that did not deter him, he was on his way.  Tomorrow we are in St. Maarten and there is even a nice beach next to the dock so he will not have to go far. 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

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