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11 Feb. 2018: At Sea.

Yesterday I boarded the ms Zuiderdam in Willemstad after having been on vacation since December 18 after leaving the ms Nieuw Statendam when it ended its maiden voyage in Ft. Lauderdale.

During my vacation time, the IT gurus of Holland America have been moving my blog to a separate server for operational reasons. It should not have affected anybody as I am still linked through via the HAL blog but you can also reach me via

www.captainalbert.com

Never a dull moment when you work for Holland America.

I will be on board the ms Zuiderdam for three weeks to help with preparing for an upcoming audit and to spend some time with new officers, to teach them a few tricks of the trade.

The ms Zuiderdam is making 10 and 11 day “sunfarer” cruises to the South West Caribbean and Middle America. (This is Panama and Costa Rica, as they are officially not part of the Caribbean. At least that is what geographers tell me) so I jumped onto the ship in the middle of the cruise by coming on board yesterday in Willemstad. Main reason for that is, is that KLM has a direct flight from Amsterdam to Willemstad and that omits the need to fly via the USA. Which would not only be a longer journey but also would have meant going through American immigration. This normally means waiting in line for an hour. American airports have not progressed yet to having the option that you can travel through while staying in the international zone. I believe that Minneapolis was going to experiment with this but if it ever started, I do not know. So all flights from anywhere that go to and Hub airport in the USA result in seeing CBP regardless if the USA is your final destination. And if CBP is busy with too many flights coming in at the same time, you can miss your connecting flight. Thus KLM non-stop to Willemstad was in this case a much better option. By 1900 local time I was sitting on my balcony watching the Caribbean sun setting in the sea and all was well in the world.

The good ship Zuiderdam is under the command of Captain Bart Vaartjes (see bio on the blog) who also happens to celebrate his birthday today. And he is doing that by rocking the boat as we are expecting some turbulent seas this evening. What is going on is, that the normal Trade Wind is a lot stronger than usual. We are on the way from Willemstad to Cartagena and for that we have to sail north of Colombia. That is the South West end of the Caribbean Sea and when looking from here to the North East it is one open sea surface all the way to St. Thomas. Thus the Trade winds can freely push up the waves to a maximum. Every ship which sails on a SW course towards Panama or veers south to Cartagena will get this wind and swell in the stern. And this under a ¾ angle of the stern. That creates a corkscrew motion with the ship, which is very hard for the ships stabilizers to deal with. As it is not rolling (= where we have stabilizers for) and it is not pitching (bow / stern go up and down for which we can slow down or speed up) thus the ship will move whatever the captain tries.

Now the last few days a cold front has been coming in which has enhanced this trade wind considerably and has pushed the waves up from about a normal 10 feet to 15 feet. Any wave height of over 11 to 12 feet makes a ship move. Now we get 15 feet and add to that the normal corkscrew motion and the ship “rocks”. Thus we will not have particularly bad weather tonight but the moving ship really makes it feel as if it is.

The captain warned all the guests and crew, and advised to stow everything safely in the cabins, to be careful walking around this evening; and hold on tightly to their glass of wine while sitting in the bar. You do not want to spill it, even if it is the 2nd glass during happy hour.

The motion will last until we turn south towards Boca Chica, the estuary entrance to Cartagena. There we will be around 05.30 and then race into the port for a docking before 07.00 hrs. There are supposed to be two more cruise ships in port so it will be a busy day.

The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow. Warm with a gentle breeze, as the strong ocean winds normally do not reach the sheltered port of Cartagena all the way inside.

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Several years ago HAL began selecting senior Masters to tour the fleet and help out with some things. Such as instructing brand new officers how to actually tie up and anchor the ship. The bos'n and sailors are all there but they stand and watch while the officers do the work. While Captain Albert is aboard those deck officers will get hands on experience tying up and letting go both fore and aft and anchoring.

Captain Albert also runs elaborate fire drills often incorporating at least a portion of the guests; such as evacuating guests from their cabins to a common area. Captain Albert also teaches engineers how to deal with an underwater hole in a hull. He builds the hull out of wooden timbers and fire hoses provide the water. The officers learn how to stop it. I have pictures of all of these events, that Captain Albert has posted on his blog, on my machine; samples below.

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20161029-Fire-Drill-Staging-area-E.jpg (85.4 KB)
20171003-blog-stairway-guide-E.jpg (79.1 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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https://www.captainalbert.com/

12 Feb. 2019; Cartagena, Colombia.

Attached three images:

2019-feb-12-blog-1-The route to Cartagena-E.jpg (87.3 KB)

Screen shot of route into Cartagena.

2019-feb-12-blog-2-Meet and Greet on the pier-E.jpg (96.3 KB)

The Captain and other senior managers greet guests as they get off the ship shortly after arrival Cartagena.

2019-feb-12-blog-3-Medical team looking after our dummy-E.jpg (101.1 KB)

Fire Drill: HAL ships carry a $1,800 lifelike human dummy that floats. Captain Albert said that extremities can be moved normally and it weighs the same as a person. The dummy is treated the same as if it were a person. The dummy is used to train ships staff in lifesaving techniques.

Greg Hayden
 

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I have known Albert 26 years... back when he was 2nd Mate in the old ROTTERDAM. Fine fellow and he has a bloody difficult job! In addition to his position as safety instructor with HAL, if that is a correct title, he has written a few books on shipping history.

Stephen
 

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28 Feb. 2019. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

https://www.captainalbert.com/

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28 Feb. 2019. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

Half Moon Cay has also it windless days and I am publishing today a number of photos that would make the Public Relations department jealous. They were taken by our First Engineer Kyle Pritchard as he had brought his drone ashore. Half Moon Cay is much bigger than the area Holland America uses and that is something you cannot see when ashore as the shrubbery is about 2.50 meters high in places and thus you have to walk all the wide sandy paths that are there and follow all the signs. I tried that once in the past and made it to the lagoon but when I walked back to take the next path to the horses, the mast of Captain Morgan’s bar arose invitingly above the shrubs and the urge for a cool drink was much more urgent than my original urge to see the horses.

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http://www.breauxboats.net/vessels.html

https://tinyurl.com/yy32nzg2

https://www.iberianet.com/news/breaux-brothers-enterprises-christens-craft-made-for-cruise-ship-liner/article_0659a39c-30ea-11e9-8f96-57176655ea2d.html

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28-feb-blog-1-HMCa-Loading the Half Moon Clipper with supplies for the Island-E.jpg (118.9 KB)
28-feb-blog-1-hmc-kyle-prtichard-E.jpg (82.8 KB)
28-feb-blog-2-The new Half Moon Clipper starting her new life today at Half Moon Cay-E.jpg (86.3 KB)
28-feb-blog-3-kyle-E.jpg (93.7 KB)
28-feb-blog-4-kyle-pritchard-b-E.jpg (73.2 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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https://www.captainalbert.com/01-march-2019-at-sea/#more-147775

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01 March 2019; At Sea.

That does not mean that I was already packing today but faced a full day’s work of refresher courses for the Hotel crew and a review of the Engine spaces. On the bridge the whole bridge team was under review as well as we have currently a Fleet Captain on board. So this week the ms Zuiderdam was blessed with a Fleet Master, me, and a Fleet captain, Captain Pietro Sinisi. He does on the bridge what I do off the bridge. While his focus is to measure the competence of the bridge team, my focus is to enhance the compliance quality of the whole ship, outside the bridge procedures. While my job stays my job as it is the progression in seniority and experience; a Fleet Captain is assigned for two years and then returns to being a regular captain again. Captain Sinisi comes from Costa and he will return to the Costa Fleet in July when his two years are over.

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So here we have an answer about Captain Albert's Fleet Master rank the others being Fleet Captains.

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01-march-blog-1-ms Zuiderdam arriving at the Oranjestad, Aruba pilot station-E.jpg (110.5 KB)

SN software truncates the following description so here it is:

01-march-blog-02.jpg (72.5 KB)

01-march-blog-02-Captain Pietro Sinisi Fleet Captain, Captain Bart Vaartjes Master of the ms Zuiderdam and Yours Truly Fleet Master

Greg Hayden
 

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https://www.captainalbert.com/15-march-2019-cartagena-colombia/#more-147920

15 March 2019: Cartagena, Colombia

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Once the ship was docked, we started a series of drills. Normally we try to do them in the morning but sometimes we have do them in the afternoon albeit as early in the afternoon as possible. What we do nowadays, it a far cry from the past, when waving a hose in the direction of a sign (saying fire) was considered a drill:

Today we had the full cycle of three stages in one drill and all 700 crew involved.

First Stage Response (initial fire or other disaster such as water ingress or explosion)

Escalation to Crew alert = Captain requires ALL crew to assemble and report for their specific duties.

Escalation to General emergency Alarm = Assembly for eventual abandonment of the ship if needed.

Alarm 1: First Stage Response Alarm:

Teams involved: 4x fire teams, hose preparation team, dresser teams, support team, controller and bottle team, medical team, evacuation and boundary squad. Official do***ent securing team, Bridge, ECR and Hotel (muster control) on full standby.

2nd Alarm, the Crew Alert Alarm:

The above teams and in addition: Club Hal, Guest area sweep team, Crew area sweep team. Passenger assist team, Embarkation deck clearing team. All lifeboat & life raft teams, Stairway guides. Assist as directed team (no specific function but ready for support)

3rd Alarm, the General Emergency Alarm:

Today it rolled from fire into standby and then into abandonment, while at the same time we had a casualty in the fire but also a guest (a star role by one of the cadets) who fell from the stairs so the Medical team had to split into two and juggle a team of five over three locations. (Two casualty locations and the infirmary).

This takes about 75 minutes and then we have a debrief where we discuss the good points and the learning moments. Those learning moments then go into the next drill as objectives.

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15-march-blog-2-In a pitch dark bo’sun store with smoke drifting around the fire team searches.jpg (43.8 KB)

15-march-blog-3-Meet Mr. D Ummy our most abused team member-E.jpg (72.4 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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Discussion Starter #9
https://www.captainalbert.com/17-march-2019-at-sea-day-2/#more-147941

Captain Albert illustrates the Panama Canal Control Center:
17-march-blog-2-Traffic Control of the Panama Canal.jpg

While describing Holland America's Seattle Fleet Operations Center:
17-march-blog-1-Seattle Fleet Operations Center The place is manned 24 hrs a day 7 seven days a week.jpg

Handles arrangements ashore, that ships crew used to have to do, when diverting for whatever reason. All fifteen HAL ships + 5 Seabourn ships are included. Interesting reading.

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17-march-blog-2-Traffic Control of the Panama Canal-E.jpg (142.3 KB)
17-march-blog-1-Seattle Fleet Operations Center The place is manned 24 hrs a day 7 seven days a .jpg (75.2 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Captain Albert has been given some chores to perform ashore his last post was yesterday March 25. Captain Albert will resume his blog April 7, 2019.

Greg Hayden
 

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Captain Albert is now on the Seabourn Ovation and passed through the Suez Canal

Captain Albert is now on the Seabourn Ovation and passed through the Suez Canal yesterday.

https://www.captainalbert.com/21-apr-2019-suez-canal-egypt/#more-148296

Captain Albert confirmed that the vessel had to hire two row-boats with their crews and hoist the boats aboard. Ostensibly this is in case a windstorm comes up and the ships all need to tie up at a canal side. Captain Albert said that the crew of these boats spent MOST of their time exploring the Ovation Crews' Food Outlets.

He confirms that in a portion of the seaway as of 2014 there are separate north and south bound channels. The Master of the Ovation had Captain Albert give the loud-speaker narration of the transit, telling guests what they were seeing. So he had plenty of opportunity to take pictures.

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We started out with a speed of 11 knots but that came down already quite quickly to 8 and then 7 knots. According to the pilot there was “something” and so we went not as fast as we had hoped for. I never found out what that “something “ was. Due to this project from 2014 where by 72 KM of Canal was doubled and dredged, the convoy system is only really needed for the part from Suez to the North End of the Bitter Lakes.

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07-april-blog2-The Seabourn Ovation The last newbuild of Seabourn Cruises-E..jpg (70.2 KB)

07-april-blog-3-Captain Stig Betten, center, briefing his navigation team just before departure-E.jpg (68.8 KB)

21-apr-blog-01-E.jpg (61.4 KB)

21-apr-blog-02-c-the-cross-canal-for pilot boats and other official craft-E.jpg (67.5 KB)

21-apri-blog-02-b-Suez Canal New Headquarters-between-both-channels-E.jpg (51.5 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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Discussion Starter #12
https://www.captainalbert.com/07-july-2019-seward-alaska/

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The Westerdam is making 14 day cruises from Vancouver to Seward and back. You can take the 7 day and then go overland or go home from Seward / Anchorage or do the 14 days by sailing back down again. Her sister ship the Noordam is doing the opposite, so every Sunday there is a departure from Vancouver and from Seward. Both ships follow the regular schedule: Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Seward and on return Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Vancouver.

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https://www.captainalbert.com/08-july-2019-at-sea-gulf-of-alaska/#more-148773

08-july-2019-photo-2-Water Tight Door bridge monitor-E.jpg attached

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The Water Tight Door bridge monitor. B deck is the first deck under the water line. Here live some of the crew. As each section (watertight compartment) between two doors always has a vertical staircase, there is no need to open doors here. C deck forward is where the ships laundry is located and you can see one door (half red) being opened for laundry to be transported from the washing and drying area to the clean linen rooms. D deck is where the main engine room is located which runs the whole length of the ship and as all doors are green, there is no engineer moving through.

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Attached: 08-july-2019-photo-2-Water Tight Door bridge monitor-E.jpg (122.0 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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https://www.captainalbert.com/18-november-2019-bridgetown-barbados/#more-149324

Captain Albert is back at work on ms Koningsdam now in the Caribbean. But he joined in Europe and repositioned with a seven days Rhumb Line transatlantic voyage to Florida. And now are on the first Caribbean cruise.

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It is a slow run from Martinique as it is a mere distance of 120 NM. To be covered in 12 hrs. So 10 miles an hour. Good for the fuel and good for the way the ship rides the waves. Tonight we will have an even shorter distance to cover as it is 110 nautical miles from Barbados to Castries 97 NM. As the crow flies but we have to sail around the South point and up the coast as Castries is on the west side of the island. Again a good speed, as with 10 knots the stabilizers are still effective and the ship can gently ride the North Atlantic swell that is running here. Normally to keep that 10 knots we make a wide loop once inside the Caribbean Sea again and then approach Castries from the West.

The reason for the North Atlantic swell is the fact that Barbados is not laying in the Eastern ring of islands of the Caribbean Sea but a 100 miles to the East of it. A lonely island in the Atlantic Ocean. Thus it is an Atlantic Island but long time ago it was decided that it was officially part of the Caribbean Sea. I assume that a very Highly paid commission, after weeks, maybe months of intense negotiations came that decision…….. All the Caribbean Islands are from a Volcanic origin and the Caribbean Islands lay on a continuous rim of Volcano tops coming up from the Ocean Floor. All very dormant although Mount Pelee on Martinique did let the world known in 1929 that there were still volcano’s by erupting with a considerable bang and fireworks.

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More .....

Using PhotoShop I excerpted Captain Albert's words and stuck them on the bottom of the final picture.

Attached:
Final-900.jpg (139.6 KB)
18-nov-2019-blog-1.jpg (66.0 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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Discussion Starter #14
https://www.captainalbert.com/22-november-2019-at-sea/#more-149364

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My day was filled with organizing and executing a Damage Control Drill for the engine department. You will have seen various executions of this in my past blogs. Most of the time we do it on the forward observations deck but as the Koningsdam has a Jacuzzi there that is not so easy. But the ship has a very large aft mooring deck which is perfect. The engineering department trains with the equipment on a regular basis but does not have the time to set something up as big as I can do which of course is more realistic than just putting a small clamp around a pipe.

The challenge of today. 5 water hoses pumping over 300 tons of sea water an hour into the ship. Which is on the mooring deck not a problem as it goes straight back to where it came from.

While that is going on, they have to go through the ship to collect all the equipment which is stored in various damage control lockers. We do not have all the equipment in the same area as with a collision or other sort of mayhem it might then wipe out all our equipment. Thus it is spread around in the various main vertical zones. A vertical zone is a vertical section of the ship which is separated from another vertical section by Fire tight bulkheads and below the water line by watertight bulkheads. With having equipment in separate zones we would never lose everything in case one zone would be affected. The watertight subdivision ensures that if one or two compartments would be penetrated then those compartments could fill up and the watertight doors would prevent the water from flowing to the rest of the ship.

And that is the way we save the ship. To the left one of our cadets who did not get as wet as she had hoped for.

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22-nov-2019-blog-3-Shoring-Timber-Stores-E.jpg (91.9 KB)
DSC00473-Finished-E.jpg (88.0 KB)

Greg Hayden
 

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Is this thread an advertisement for Carnival / HAL ?????

An old colleague now works in Carnival Corporation's Center for Simulator Maritime Training Academy in Almere near Amsterdam and he considers it an excellent training aid for both initial and follow-up training. I think such Off-The-Job training followed shortly by On-The Job familiarisation would have benefited me and probably many others in the analogue 1970's.
Not all modern methods are suspect.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
https://www.captainalbert.com/12-feb-2020-fort-lauderdale-florida/#more-149749

Captain Albert is on the Veendam. Pictures taken today, Wednesday, February 12, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

DSC01365-AA-bunkering.jpg

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HFO via a hose that connects to a pipeline beneath the pier, MGO from the tanker trucks. Cherry pickers for painting, loading stores, landing recycables, etc etc.

Today we also got our tender back. The Veendam is in the process of an overhaul of the tenders and the davits arms, while the tenders are away. Normally we do that in dry dock but with tenders that has proven a bit of a challenge. I remember from a dry dock in the past, in Freeport (where Carnival Corp. partly owns the dry-dock company there) that we tried to do a good tender overhaul and the blowing sand made things not easy.

So the solution was to rig a marquee to protect the paint-work going on from the sand. Then came a windy night and the marquee took off to a destination unknown, never to be seen again. So this is much better. The tender goes ashore with a truck into a large shed, gets completely overhauled during the cruise that the ship is away and then is hoisted back on board. Even if they would build a dedicated shed at the dry dock, you still get sand there, as in Freeport there is sand everywhere.

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DSC01365-AA-bunkering.jpg (138.8 KB)
DSC01367-Our tender coming back, looking nice and shiny again.jpg (103.2 KB)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Captain Albert is on ms Rotterdam doing Fort Lauderdale to San Diego and back Panama Canal Cruises and days ago Captain Albert was told that he would not move on to another ship in three weeks time as per usual. Instead he would stay on ms Rotterdam until she is in Rotterdam April 22 when he would sign off and go home.

https://www.captainalbert.com/14-march-2020-puerto-vallarta-mexico/#more-150058

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March 14, 2020 / Captain Albert

We live in a dynamic world and the moment we think all is going (relatively) well, the next thing happens. Last night I had barely posted my daily blog and the message from Stein Kruse came in that the whole fleet was going into a voluntarily lockdown for 30 days at the end of the current cruise. That means that our Noordam and Veendam are already out of service and that other ships are following step by step, when their cruise comes to an end. We, the ms Rotterdam are the exception, for the length of time we will still sail, due to the fact that we are making a Panama Canal cruise and we have to get to the other side. So the plan at the moment is to continue the cruise as scheduled and take it day by day, to see what Virus is doing, to seen what the Medical Profession is advising and to see how the politicians are reacting to it. Luckily the ms Rotterdam is safe and healthy and that is the most important thing. Our crew is sanitizing so much that “the paint is coming of the walls” and nobody has any symptoms or feels ill.

How that will work out for the coming ports, is any bodies guess. If one looks at the total cases by country, (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries) then we do not have much to worry about. There is very little going on in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua or Panama and hopefully our cruise will not be affected. These countries have of course also stepped up their precautions and for the first time in my life I had to fill out a Guatemalan Health Declaration. Luckily I know what Si and Non means and thus I could face the challenge. Once we are at the other side of the Panama Canal it will depends again on the various positions the individual Islands take as they all have another approach to the matter. And they are all making different decisions. We have to look at it day by day and hope that whatever happens we can still get our guests who will be leaving at the end of the cruise safely home. As of this moment, Fort Lauderdale has indicated that landing our guests, regardless of nationality, will not be a problem.

As I am the old and wise man on board (wise is a question mark, but old I certainly am in the eyes of the crew with 41 years at sea) the crew is asking if I ever had an experience like this before. And of course I have not; but it looks more and more to me as a combination of 9/11 and the onset of the Noro Virus combined. Noro made a lot of guests ill until the scientists of the CDC figured out what the most effective protocols were and with 9/11 most of the planes were not flying and the ships were sailing half empty. Now we have a sort of combination of the two things. No doubt for this a solution will be found as well. It was yesterday in the Dutch Newspapers that a Dutch University had found something that could be used on short notice against the Virus. So let’s hope that this is indeed true.

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More ....
 

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Discussion Starter #18
https://www.captainalbert.com/17-m17-march-2020-puerto-vallarta-mexico-day-4-day-2-without-guests/#more-150085

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17 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 4) …. Day 2 without guests.

The crew is slowly coming to grips with the fact that there are no more guests on board and there will not be any for the fore-seeable future. Everybody knows that and every realizes that, sort of. But now on a sub-conscious level it starts to sink in as well. Especially for the Hotel Department, the presence of guests is the Raison- d’etre of their existence and that is gone for obvious reasons. And it is not because of dry-dock. Although we are grabbing the chance to do a lot of work. The crew suddenly realizes that they can slow their pace down for a few minutes, that they get extra time off and that we are together in a waiting game. Take a race driver his/her car away, take a yachtsman his sails away and you have the same effect as taking the guest away from a Holland America Line crew member.

Thus the focus is now on setting up a routine that will keep everybody busy, sane and positive. I am here to give a helping hand although it is debatable if my helping hand is really that much appreciated. As I keep everybody busy with drills, trainings and inspection follow ups. And for once I do not have to take the guests well-being and cruise enjoyment in consideration so I can suggest, and when approved, some elaborate things which normally would have had too much of an impact on the guests. (Like setting the whole atrium under smoke or really stopping all the elevators because we have an electrical situation) Thus the ship might be able to play out a number of scenarios in the coming days (or weeks).

Today we simulated a Main Engine room fire and subsequent full shutdown of all the engines and that would mean a black out if we did not have our Emergency Diesel Generator and Auxiliary Generator. Those two engines will ensure that there is enough power for light, toilets, cooking and limited A.C. But a main shut down of the engine can happen, if something goes wrong with the fuel supply. Fuel comes from the tanks and is then heated up, which makes it easier to ignite. It then goes to purifiers where it is heated up even more and then purified. That means: water and other imperfections are cleaned out. A purifier basically works like a washer /spinner at home. From there the fuel will eventually make it to the engines under very high pressure so it ignites more easily to push the cylinders up and down and what makes an engine a motor. The two dangerous points in that process are the purifiers and the hoses /pipes that lead the fuel to the engine. And it still goes wrong there on ships occasionally. Most of the time due to metal fatigue but also due to human error when a bolt has not been tightened or something similar.

When a malfunction happens this hot and under pressure oil is pushed out at great velocity. That really looks like the spouter they always talk about when they were searching for oil in the old Wild West. If that oil touches an even hotter surface in the ER, then ignition will occur. And then the ships complement has to be fast. Very fast. But with a big eruption we will most likely be too slow. And for that we train Co2 release. For an engineer it is extremely difficult to accept the fact that there might be a problem that cannot be solved by technical skill anymore, that it is just too late. Because of this issue, ships have been lost in the past. So part of the drill is to get the right mindset that we should stop with trying anything else but a major shutdown.

And that is C02. We have a whole bank with C02 bottles on board and experience learned that as soon as the chief engineer has a good insight in the seriousness of the situation that he recommends C02 release. And makes up his mind within 10 minutes. The captain then has to review as this will gravely impact the safe operation of his ship and then should give permission. Then within 15 minutes of the start of the emergency C02 should be released and that will push out all the still present C02 in the Engine space. Fire goes out.

C02 does not cool down so we then have to wait 4 to 12 hours before we can have a look inside. Any easier and the Oxygen than comes in when opening an entrance door, could ignite the fire again. Because we cannot release C02 in reality, this is a very theoretical drill which takes all the focus of everybody to play their part at the right moment. I provide scenario’s for that, so the C.E can measure the effectiveness of the drill against the standards. Today we managed to keep to the 15 minute time sequence and that is not easy to do. So things went well.

For our stay we are now waiting for future developments. We might have to go out for a night and then come back, we might just stay, and we might continue our voyage. Top management is assessing to see what is best for us. The captain holds every morning a sort of “Voice from the Bridge” when we all get an update. And again it was confirmed today that it is the intention that all crew will stay on board. So we keep cleaning. (And drilling………..)

Today was not as sunny as expected but it was a nice day. But tomorrow there should be more sun again 28oC / 82oF and a gentle breeze. The weather for the coming days is about the same. So all is well in the world, at least here on the ms Rotterdam.

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attached: 2020-march-17-blog-1-FO-Purifier-System.jpg (432.6 KB)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
https://www.captainalbert.com/19-march-2020-puerto-vallarta-mexico-day-6-day-4-without-guests/#more-150101

19 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 6) … Day 4 without guests.

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Tonight we will go to sea for a night, so the chief engineer can run his engines on full speed (think soot clogging in the funnel, which is extremely dangerous as it can cause a funnel fire), we can process oily bilge water, back to clean water (machinery is only allowed to run at sea with speeds of over six knots) and we can discharge grey water (this is shower and kitchen water which is not harmful for the environment) Puerto Vallarta has only limited facilities to deal with this, as it is not a change over port, but a port of call. Then tomorrow morning we will come back to the dock, unless Mexico would decide to go in complete lockdown overnight for the whole country. As mentioned before, this area does not have any problems so it is better for the economy to keep going for as long as it can, and maybe it will not be affected at all.

More ships are coming this way now; we have heard about the Norwegian Joy of NCL which according to Marine Traffic will arrive here tomorrow afternoon by 16.00 hrs. and the Europa of Hapag Lloyd which is scheduled for 20.00 hrs. Tomorrow night. Then the port will be full with three ships. (A very big one, a medium size and a small cruise ship altogether in port) If Mexico does go in lockdown then we will all be at the anchorage and then the company’s will discuss with the authorities the best way forward.

On board feeding arrangements have been adapted as well. Normally the Officers and staff eat in the Lido with the guests, the crew has the crew mess room and the Petty Officers the P.O mess room. As we are now not operational, it makes sense to combine the various outlets and it was decided to make the Lido Restaurant the venue of choice. It has two sides and one side is for those in (clean) coveralls and the other side for those in uniforms or civvies. Also open today was the Dive In and thus a long, long line of Dining room stewards could be observed waiting for a Hot Dog. I did not know that hot dogs were so popular in Indonesia, but obviously they are. Apart from the Indonesian and Filipino food cycle (which is regulated in agreement with the respective labor unions) we also had the Spaghetti station open, the salad bar and the ice cream bar. Plus the Pizza place on the aft Sea View deck. Next to it is the Sea View bar which is also open so everybody can have a drink under the stars. (With “happy hour” crew prices) Tonight this will also be the venue for the crew bingo.

The local authorities have been very good in helping us out, with what we need to keep the ship going and that is not what they are used to during a normal day call. As a thank you and a reminder to the strange times we have been thrown in, the Captain offered a tree, sapling, to the port and which was duly planted in the port area. With a bit of luck the small tree will grow to be a big tree and will thus immortalize our visit and our gratefulness for the support of the people of Puerto Vallarta. Captain Bas van Dreumel who presented the tree quoted: ” There is a proverb which says “Anyone who plants a tree knowing that he will never sit in its shade has at least begun to grasp the meaning of life.” So maybe generations to come will be able to sit under the tree.

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Discussion Starter #20
22 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 8) … Day 7 without guests.

https://www.captainalbert.com/22-march-2020-puerto-vallarta-mexico-day-8-day-7-without-guests/#more-150124

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22 March 2020; Puerto Vallarta Mexico (Day 8) … Day 7 without guests.

Another good day in Puerto Vallarta. Although we are marooned on the ship as we cannot go ashore, we are still much better off than other people in the world and thus you will not hear any complaints from us on board. Yesterday was Saturday so no doubt a lot of Holiday Makers will have gone home and I do not think that new holiday makers will come out. But many Mexicans might still be on the way home so the planes are still flying.

The ship is healthy and well and so are all the other cruise ships out there. In the deep sea and in port. In our port there are currently two, us and the Norwegian Joy. But that might eventually change. Our company, which means Carnival Corporation as all activities are coordinated, is making short term and long term plans. Based on what we know now, and based on what we can do if the situation changes. So short term we will stay here in Puerto Vallarta with two ships and the Eurodam is due to arrive on the 24th. Eventually, some time in the future, if things roll as is hoped for, a total of 7 HAL ships could arrive as that is the fleet for the Alaska season. We might as well have all the ships on the right side of the Panama Canal for and if when things get better.

For ourselves we will stay here in Puerto Vallarta for the coming days. Can we stay for the very long term? No, as even a ship without guests needs to re-fuel. There will be a moment that we will run short on fuel and then we will have sail to a port nearby where they have bunkering facilities. For the rest we can last for a very long time as we can source everything we need locally here in Puerto Vallarta. Where we will go for bunker will be the 1000 dollar question, as there are several ports where we can go to. Thus far even ports who are in lock down have not closed bunker facilities as bunkering can be done on anchorages or at secured docking facilities where direct contact between ship and shore is not necessary. But that is for the far future.

In the mean time we focus on cleaning, we focus on keeping up spirits and we start to focus on more and more training and exercise. We now have the time to go beyond the already very high standards of the company as there is always more you can do. Especially as, and this is not meant in a negative way, there are no guests around that makes us have to go on tip toes. As an example, we exercise cabin fires. We can only do that if we have empty cabins (which we prefer not to have) and then we have to be careful with the neighbors. Now we have an empty ship and thus all the guest cabins are available. And thus we go, or there I go. So for tomorrows fire drill, I am planning a balcony fire because it would not bother anybody. The smoke machines can come out, and if apart from on the balcony, the smoke goes into the ship, then it will only make the drill more interesting and realistic. It will be up to the teams to contain the smoke as close to the affected location as possible.

Shore management is keeping us well up-to-date with what they are doing and planning. That starts all the way at the top, Mr. Andrew Donald, the head of Carnival Corporation transmits regular podcasts and video messages about where we are heading. It was good for all to know that he could confirm that we are probably the strongest Cruise business in the world for weathering this storm. It is the intention to keep the 150,000 personnel that we have working and that alleviates a lot of the concerns that are playing through peoples mind. As long as the families are looked after, then crew will be quite content to sit on a ship far far away. Every crew member is different and we have within the co-operation Officers, Staff and Crew from 145 countries. From the very cool and staid cultures to very emotional but everybody thinks about “how is the home front doing".

For the entertainment for all of us, today was Sunday lunch (Nasi Goreng for the Dutch and the Indonesians) and other foods to satisfy different cultures…….. with free soda’s. And anything free is always appreciating by officers and crew alike. Due to the great success of the “Housekeeping Band” in the Lido Restaurant yesterday, they have now setup shop outside near the Lido Pool as a lot of crew has expressed the desire to do Karaoke. So we give them a bit more space for an audience. Tonight’s movie is Charlie’s Angels and although that might already be out there on streaming, seeing it on the Big Screen is something totally different.

Weather for tomorrow: Same as Today Sunny 28oC / 84oF. But maybe a little less wind. It is a pity that this place is so far from England where I live, otherwise a nice Pied-a-Terre comes to mind for the cold winters. Instead if the wind is gentle I might ask for a lifeboat to be lowered and we start training the cadets.

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"Break time on board. Instead of on the lower decks crew can now sit on the Lido Deck between shifts."

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"The Sea View Bar is open all day staffed by the Ship’s Bar tenders on rotation. But to avoid crew getting “too happy” the number of alcoholic beverages are limited."

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"Part of the Lido and beverage team just finished with clearing up from Lunch hour. Then everything is prepared for Dinner which starts at 1600 hrs. and ends at 1900 hrs. Because we are still running work for essential shifts."

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