Today the ship and thus all of us, spent the day at Half Moon Cay. We had a glorious day with partly cloudy skies and a gentle breeze. Perfect weather for a day at the beach…….. as long as you remember sun block 35. By late afternoon it became apparent that not all our guests had remembered that, most likely due to the cool breeze which made if feel a lot less “hot” than it was. They might remember Half Moon Cay for a few days to come.
It is tight run to get to Half Moon Cay on time from Fort Lauderdale, requiring a 19 knot average speed. It was even more tight than normal as we left later than scheduled as by departure time yesterday, we still had 26 unknown guests outstanding. Unknown means in this case, we did not know where they were as they were coming with their own transport so we could not keep track of them. We always wait if we can and we have the golden rule that if there are more than 10 outstanding, then we take the risk of maybe being a little bit late in the next port. So we sailed 40 minutes later and most of the “unknowns” had shown up by that time. And we just arrived on time at Half Moon Cay.
Holland America purchased a never ending lease for the larger part of Little San Salvador in 1996 and renamed it Half Moon Cay after the sailing ship of Henry Hudson (The Haelve Maen = Half Moon) which until recently was part of the company logo. Through the years the company has developed the area along the curved beach on the west side, keeping the rest of the island as a nature reserve. That is why there are no activities at the inner lake; we leave that to the local birdies.
So we arrived right just on time and dropped the hook in 10 meter deep water which left about 3 meters of clearance under the keel. More than enough water to float on. The water is so crystal clear here that we could see the anchor chain running all the way over the sea bottom. We had today about 1000 feet of chain in the water with the anchor itself hooked into the white sand bank in front of the port. Nice and safe and ship stayed where we parked it.
We were the only ship in today and that meant we had the sole use of the shore tenders and that made transportation very easy. A few runs with the big tenders and the whole ship was empty. As all the facilities are running on the island, regardless of how many people there are on the island, the 1850 we brought ashore this time, had ample space and there were no lines. The island can easily handle 5000+ guests, which was put to the test some time ago when 2 Carnival Mega Liners called here on the same day. Carnival can use our island but only if there are no HAL ships. You will never see a HAL ship and a Carnival ship together. We do have sometimes two HAL ships at the anchorage together but as all our ships are medium size it is still not very crowded. (Except maybe at the Captain Morgan’s Bar, as drinking room there is somewhat limited as the bar is located inside the hull of an old sailing ship)
All food and drink is supplied by the ship itself; it goes ashore in the morning with a specialized boat called the Half Moon Clipper and on departure the left overs (very little) come back to the ship. Apart from some of the shops and the local sports activities, everything, including all the food and drink outlets are run by our own crew. Thus at the barbeque house you will see the same smiling faces as you see in the Lido every day. Still guests get confused sometimes and the remark of the day was: As I had free lunch here on the island can I still go back and have a free lunch on board????
On days like this you wish that you could stay overnight here with the ship. A night under the stars must be wonderful on the beach. But more ports are calling and so we had to leave at 15.00 hrs. to maintain the schedule and to arrive in Oranjestad, Aruba on time. And there we stay late in the evening so the guests can stay ashore longer.
We will sail this evening south through the Bahama Islands and then tomorrow morning dive into the Caribbean Sea by sailing through the Windward Passage. Weather at the moment looks good with little chance of turbulence.