Holland America Line Inc.

03/12/2017 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/12/2017 18:04

12 March 2017; Willemstad Curacao.

Holland America tries to build in at least one evening call in a cruise of more than seven days. If it is a seven day cruise, we also try it, but that does not always work out due to the distance between the various ports. With the A.B.C islands in such close proximity it is a no brainer to organize such a schedule as the distance between Oranjestad (on A = Aruba) and Willemstad (C = Curacao) is about 80 miles and that is pushing it. Thus we can do a late night departure and still arrive on time, while we almost sail backwards while getting there. The evening is mostly given over to a deck party or the chance to have an evening ashore. Although the option is there not that many of our guests go for it, apart from a few adventurers who go for a dinner ashore or who want to see another variation of slot machine in the local casino.

It is almost a straight line to Curacao and because we docked outside we hardly had to chance course at all. It was more a matter of stopping the ship on time and putting the lines ashore. No course changes needed as we were docking at the Mega Pier which runs in line with the general axis of the island. What is more important it also runs in line with the general axis of the wind. Done on purpose so the large ships do not have to contend with the wind which causes drift; no here the wind is full on the bow and thus it only slows the ship down a little bit. Today we were quite happy to be at the Mega Pier as the wind was very strong, breezing up to 30 knots at times.

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Long spring lines with the ship sticking out. The same goes for the stern.

The Mega pier is called the Mega Pier as it can accommodate Mega size cruise ships. But it is not really a mega-pier. It is quite a small T pier which requires long lines to be run. For the spring lines to the corner of the dock and for the head and breast lines to a one single mooring bollard on a dolphin. They certainly did not overspend on making captains happy with a plethora of docking options. There is now a plan to build a 2 mega pier and I have no idea if it is going to be a small T pier again or a mega T pier. I hope for the latter. They are already moving sand just behind this pier so it will not be long before we get an idea of what it is going to be.

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Bow and stern lines go to a single dolphin. The green covers behind the bollards are little winches to pull the ropes up from the water.

In the meantime life goes on onboard with the regular routine of trainings. While I am still making everybody's life miserable by going through their operations with a fine toothcomb, the trainers we have onboard are busy with training on the job. Holland America has a contract with a company who supplies specialist safety trainers (all ex-navy petty officers) who go around the fleet for general but also specific safety and related training. When I left the Eurodam I met one of them who was joining to provide training in a new system of chemical management which the company is introducing.

The trainers we have onboard now are more for the general items. I have asked them to spend this cruise a bit of time with the various hotel groups here in First Response training. This means training crew in the first actions to take when something occurs. If the initial actions are correct, then the occurrence is most likely not turning into a problem. Thus they focus on Cooks, Shops, Dining room, Casino and even on the two man band of the Club Hal kiddies place.

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All the shops staff gathered on location in the shop and listening attentively to the trainers.

What we try to achieve is that a shop lady or anybody else will take affirmative action when something happens and will not run away or is not too scared to do something. Call the bridge, use a fire extinguisher, move all guests to a safe area, close Fire screen doors to secure an area. Etc. etc. All these things are not difficult to do but it needs to be trained and crew needs to be encouraged. Remember your first time of driving without a teacher or a parent to support and guide you? That apprehension is exactly the same onboard, we know they can do it, they know they can do it: we just have to offer them the routine and the skills to be confident to do it.

The results can be quite spectacular. A numbers of years ago, we had a small fire in the sauna on my ship. By the time the fire squad arrived the Spa Manager had evacuated the area, rigged up a fire hose and had three ladies on the hose (high heels and all) pouring water into the sauna. The fire was well and truly out before the 'professionals' could do anything. I made sure she received an official letter of commendation from me and for all of them a free dinner in the Pinnacle as a thank you. Nobody had expected them to do something with a hose, but they thought it was safe to do so, and so they did. It was very impressive.

Tomorrow we are at sea, sailing North of Venezuela and Colombia on our way to Cartagena. We will have following wind, so the guests should have a pleasant situation on deck.