We sailed from Key West to Havana and from there to Cienfuegos. Grand Cayman lies directly below Cienfuegos and thus we sail the same way home as we came down the Cuban Coast. The ships that were with us yesterday went another way as they will return to Florida for a Saturday or Sunday turn over. We are currently a Wednesday ship and there are not many ships and companies who can do that. Most Americans only have a short vacation and thus the cruise has to fit in a Sunday to Sunday or a Saturday to Saturday setup. We sail with guests who have more time (and/ or money) or who are retired and then it does not matter what day we leave or arrive. We have even quite a few on board who will stay on for the coming 10 day cruise. Be in port on a midweek day is at least nice for using the airport. Ft. Lauderdale airport is a bit on the small side to handle 10,000 or so guests who might arrive on a weekend day but the 4000 coming off the Koningsdam and the Veendam tomorrow it can easily deal with. And it will not even be that many because some guests came by car, live nearby or fly from Miami, 45 minutes away with the shuttle.
So yes we are in with the Koningsdam and nobody else. The locals will have to be content with a HAL-only ship parade. Veendam is expected at the pilot station at 05.00 hrs. followed by the Koningsdam at 05.15 hrs. At least according to the harbor master of Port Everglades. Although that might change because why would we arrive so early if there are no other cruise ships coming in.? I will find out later tonight what the Captain’s plans are. Nothing happens anyway until 07.00 hrs. when the longshoremen start with the luggage.
While we are still happily completing the winter season cruises, the company is already in full swing for the summer. More and also Larger ships are going to Alaska, bringing more guests and thus we have to keep working on our own infrastructure. If you make a Holland America cruise you can do that on a HAL ship, then go inland with a HAL bus or a HAL train and while doing so you will stay in a HAL hotel. Although the company does not brand everything HAL, the hotels have their own name. Overland tours into the Great Land are becoming more and more popular so we continue to expand the hotels.
At the moment the focus is on the McKinley Chalet Resort. It was greatly expanded in 2015 when it went from a pure chalet park location to a more inclusive Resort with everything that comes with it. Now with even more Hal guests arriving they are expanding with more upgrade accommodation. A wing with 55 Junior Suites is being added to offer more choice. So if you now book a balcony cabin on the ship, you can keep a balcony cabin while you are inland. At least when you go to McKinley. At sea you can wake up with dolphins outside your balcony and here you can wake up with a moose outside. I have never been there, as although the company offers employees the option of overland tours they are nearly always sold out, as they are so popular, or we are stuck with the CPB ruling that we have to leave the country straight away after the end of our sailing contract. So I have to wait until I retire and then might have a go at it.
Tomorrow is the end of the voyage but quite a few of the guests are staying on. So will I. I will do one more cruise on the Veendam and then transfer to the ms Eurodam. At least that is the plan but until now not much has gone to plan in the current function as Fleet Support Master I never know what the challenges tomorrow might be.
We are still under the influence of some nasty weather up north and tomorrow we can expect a band of rain and wind to come over Florida around noontime. How much we will get, remains to be seen, a lot of it might rain out over the northern part of the state. But the wind is expected to change to the south west and that is quite unusual.