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07 Feb. 2018; Fort Lauderdale, USA.

Today real life re-surfaced as I rejoined to fleet. I will travel around again for the next three months, and if nothing changes, then I will be on the Zuiderdam, Veendam, Eurodam and Rotterdam. The first ship in the row is the Zuiderdam and here we are now. Although I went on vacation in the last week of November it looks as I have not been away at all, especially as most of my vacation was taken up by doing work for the apartment building I live in. An apartment building is not much different than a ship apart from the fact that it does not move. My years as Chief Officer / Staff Captain on the ships gave me some maintenance and management skills which are still handy for this sort of work.

A circle Western Caribbean Cruise which the HAL calls a Sunfarer Cruise

The good ship Zuiderdam is currently engaged in 10 and 11 day Caribbean cruises and this afternoon we started an 11 day cruise which will take us from Fort Lauderdale via Half Moon Cay, to Willemstad, Cartagena, in & out the Panama Canal, Puerto Limon, and back to Fort Lauderdale. This is a nice mixture of ports and sea days and as there are a lot of guests who have figured out that 6 ports in 7 days is not really a vacation and sea days are a lot of fun as well: the ship is fully booked.

The Zuiderdam is under the able command of Captain Bart Vaartjes and his bio is on the blog under the Tab, current captains and their schedules.  For those who are interested I have also just added the Bio of Captain Colm Ryan, currently Master of the ms Veendam. He was one of the captains who was on loan to P&O Australia when we handed over the Statendam and the Ryndam.

This time I am on board the ship to help prepare for one of the audits that all our ships have to go through and hopefully the younger officers will have some benefit of the experience that I will bring with me. The Zuiderdam recently went  through the upgrade which brought the Music Walk on board and also moved the Shore Excursion office to the Crows nest. These upgrades are taking place all over the fleet but they are not all the same for all the ships in each class.  On the Westerdam they have taken out the Atrium staircase and installed the Rijksmuseum experience with paintings and books but here on the Zuiderdam the staircase has remained and a sitting area with internet has been created where the Shore Office once was.  Time will tell what the guests prefer when they start comparing the various Vista Class ships.

While on vacation I have not neglected my historical work and I have been a little bit involved with a big exhibition which is coming in the town of Veendam about the four Veendam’s and the businessman who paid for the first Veendam, Mr. W.A. Scholten. The company named the 3rd new build in 1874 after him and when it was decided that all our ships should have a DAM name, the company named a ship after his hometown Veendam. I will explain some more about that in the coming weeks.  Also there was the yearly lecture (my own State of the Union) for the ships hosts on board the ss Rotterdam.  As you might know the ss Rotterdam V is now a hotel in Rotterdam and there are over 200 volunteers (Many of them have themselves sailed on the ship) who guide guests and visitors around and answer questions. As I researched the ships history quite deeply in the years that I sailed on her, there is always something new to tell, something that the hosts can then use again in their conversations with the visitors on the ship and those who stay as hotel guests.

The first newbuild of Holland America after it became a public company in 1873

Now we are on our way to our first port of call, Half Moon Cay, and if my ships schedule is correct, we will be the only ship there tomorrow. Thus far the weather in the Carib has been quite horrible with lots of wind and rain but from today on-wards it is supposed to improve and the crew is looking quite forward to some nice weather. I have fully taken credited for that, as the weather improved the moment I landed on American soil……………..

Weather for tomorrow in Half Moon Cay: very light winds, partly cloudy and temperatures at noon of 81oF or 27oC.

  • Robins Herrington

    Welcome back Captain Albert, nice to be receiving your blogs again. Glad you had a nice vacation, and have taken back nice weather! Enjoy your new contract,
    Best wishes Robina

  • G. E. "Robbie" Robinson

    Welcome Back! I enjoy and look forward to reading your blogs.

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