Today real life came back with a vengeance as I joined the good ship ms Amsterdam in Seattle. It was for a change it was not raining in Seattle, a very nice Indian summer day, and even the taxi drivers were in a good mood. I will be on this ship for the next three weeks and after that is still a bit of a question mark as there is a school class in the planning and then I have to go to whichever ship has cabin space. The ms Amsterdam today started her last Alaska cruise of the season going up to Anchorage and coming down again on a 14 day round trip. Then we go into a wet dock for a few days before the ship starts the autumn South Pacific Cruise. I will be staying on during this wet dock as it gives me the chance to get a lot of required training out of the way with the new crew joining and before the long Pacific cruise starts. Normally I do not get much of a chance to share what is going on in a wet dock (which is a dry dock without going out of the water) but there is always a lot of interesting things going on and now I can.
The ms Amsterdam is making a 14 day cruise from Seattle up to Alaska. The schedule calls for visiting: Ketchikan followed by scenic cruising Tracy Arm (ice depending), Juneau, Icy Point (just outside Glacier Bay), Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Victoria and then back to Seattle. As you can see there is no Glacier Bay on this cruise but we go to Hubbard Glacier on the way back. I am still debating with myself what the better call is, and we will see what that is when we get there.
In command of the ship is Captain Jonathan Mercer who transferred to the ms Amsterdam a number of years ago and is since the Captain who makes the annual world cruise. Which means that with the three on/ three off schedules, it means a number of a number of Alaska cruises as well. His alternating colleague is Captain Fred Everson who will join during the wet dock period and will stay on until the World cruise.
For me this is a scheduled visit to the ship on my regular schedule of what is called the OBTSO. On-board Team Support Officer Visit. If you have read my exploits in the past you will have noticed that it is never the same and this time I will work around the needs of the ship to prepare for wet dock and more importantly to get the ship ready after wet dock. I always compare a wet or dry dock with heart surgery. It is needed, the benefits are great but it takes two months after the surgery to get back to normal again. With a ship we do not have that luxury; we have to perform 110% again the day the wet dock ends and the guests step on board again. So planning and execution is of the utmost importance, taking into consideration that Murphy is a “valued” employee of any dry/wet dock sequence.
Holland America operates three ships from Seattle, The Eurodam on Saturday, the Oosterdam on Sunday and the Amsterdam on Monday departures. Eurodam and Oosterdam are on the 7 day round trip and the Amsterdam does a 14 day round trip. Making it up to Anchorage is hard to do on a 7 day schedule, you need at least 10 days for it, and if doing so you might as well make it 14 days and throw in a few more unusual ports such as Homer and Kodiak. Those ports are totally different again as the ports in S.E Alaska and a large number of guests on board choose this cruise after they have done the 7 day run, either from Seattle or from Vancouver.
So by 16.00 hrs. we sailed away from Smith Cove under sunny skies with temperatures just low enough to not create any bad visibility. The run through Pudget Sound and then to open sea via Strait Juan de Fuca is quite scenic and we might as well enjoy the beauty of it. Tomorrow we will be in the open ocean going around Vancouver Island and the weather looks good. A bit windy and there will be some motion of the North Pacific Ocean but then it is almost the end of the summer season here.