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10 Feb. 2018; Caribbean Sea / Oranjestad Aruba.

We were not really hamper campers today as far as the weather was concerned. It had looked so good since HMC and then Mother Nature decided to flex her muscles last night and the wind started to whip up to 40 knots. Courtesy of a weather front building up in the East Carib. 40 knots, that is Gale force winds, although you do not really connect it to bad weather as the sun was happily shining and the ship was not moving that much. And as it was partly on the portside it did not affect the speed that much either, so we were still making Aruba on time. But would we get in? That was the million dollar question.  Vista Class ships can handle winds up to 30 knots on the beam without any problem. When it goes over and there is a tugboat available it goes up to 35 knots but beyond that it goes a little bit out of the comfort zone.

Thus the closer we came, the more often the Bridge Officers called Port Control to find out what the wind was doing. Just before noon time came the good news that the wind had dropped a little bit, went down to 29 knots with a gust up to 33 knots on occasion but not more. So we were in business. On top of that the wind shifted just a little bit more to the East and thus more towards the bow causing less drift than expected and that made it our lucky day. By 13.00 hrs. over a 1000 guests disembarked in under 30 minutes all eager to invade the island and the shops.

We were not alone in port today; next to us was the Freewinds which I still find amazing to look at it, as it was the first real Caribbean cruise ship. The ship that caused the industry to start and grow to what we now know it to be. In 1968 she was called The Boheme, owned by Wallinius and sailed cruises from Miami to Nassau taking cars on board if wanted. That caused basically the creation of cruise companies such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival.  Wallinius stepped out of the cruise industry as they were and still are basically a car carrier company. Nice thing about it is that the owner in those days was a real Opera Buff and named all his ships after Opera’s or persons related to Opera’s. Hence The Boheme. That is still going on in the current day and if you see a green car carrier then it will have an Opera name.

The Royal Netherlands Navy vessel Van Speijk.

Further down was a Dutch Royal Navy vessel, the Van Speijk.  This is a multipurpose Frigate and currently in use to catch drug smugglers coming up from the South American continent. Not so long ago they had a catch of over a 1000 pounds of pure cocaine. In street value it would have made enough to have turned all the crew into millionaires. The ship is named after a Dutch Navy man Jan van Speijk who during the Belgian revolution, when the southern Netherlands split from the northern Netherlands, blew himself and his ship up than let it not fall in the hands of the separatists. The Dutch King of the time then decreed that from then on there would always be a ship in service named Van Speijk.  They were docked at the old container terminal and conveniently just across from the local Fancy Fair or Kermis in the Dutch language.

The local fancy fair in Oranjestad Aruba.

In the course of the evening the wind started to die down as it often does in the Carib after sun set and that gave a very nice view while sitting on the deck and watching the sun set. Tonight we will sail at 23.00 to go just around the corner to Curacao; a maximum distance of about 60 miles. There we will be docked by 08.00 hrs. and we are supposed to go inside and dock on the west side of the Schottegate. For that we need less wind than we had today as the wind will be full on the beam when going in. But the weather system should pass through tonight and that means for tomorrow a lot less wind but maybe a rainy day. Not so good for our guests but I do not think that the locals will complain too much.

Sunset at Sea. The photo could have come straight out of a Holland America Cruise brochure. Courtesy:  ms Zuiderdam 2nd officer Jasper van Stratum.

2 Comments
  • C in Ballard

    Sunsets from the promenade deck….if I do not have at least one photo from that location at that wonderful time of day, then it feels as if I did not enjoy all that a cruise offers. Sunrise is good too.
    It is that almost magic combination of rosy colors in the sky and on the ship that is beautiful. Best enjoyed with a warm breeze and a short rest on the deck chair. 🙂

  • Christopher

    Thanks for the history on the Swedish car carrier company. During the 2017-18 holiday cruise, the ms Amsterdam sailed northbound through the Panama Canal in a convoy behind one of their green and white ships: Figaro. That name certainly fits the operatic theme. I would post a picture or two if that were an option.

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