Friday, January 23, 2009

Cruise Ship Engine

Over the past ten years, the standard cruise ship engine has changed dramatically. The propeller that sticks on the end of a shaft has been redesigned. Captain Mercer explains:

“The Eurodam has two Azipod propellers. These are electric motors that are suspended beneath the rear of the ship and they can rotate 360 degrees. The slip rings that allow the Azipod to rotate also conduct the electricity to power them. Diesel engines are used to generate the electricity.”

“In combination with the Azipods, bow thrusters can literally move the Eurodam sideways. An economical move because tugboats are no longer needed for docking.”

“The ship’s diesel engines are fueled with heavy oil, which is pre-heated prior to combustion. It is one type of bunker fuel. The ship can carry 1300 tons of fuel, at 270 gallons per ton.”

That’s 351,000 gallons. At 77 gallons per mile, the range would be about 4500 miles, although with port stops I’m sure it drops a fair amount.

POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Captain Mercer: The Cruise Ship Security Expert

Questions for the Captain turned to security issues, particularly with several recent hijackings near Somalia in the Indian Ocean. 

It turns out that very few questions are going to be answered, for security reasons of course. Here are the two things he’s willing to tell us. 

Ships that are targeted have a low freeboard, meaning that the railing on the ship is close to the waterline. On the Eurodam it is high. 

Pirates go after slow moving ships. The Eurodam can crank up to 27 knots, or about 31 mph. This is considered fast.

From wandering around the ship, I’ve learned that security is handled by Gurkhas, who are people originally from northern India or Nepal. They have a reputation for their bravery and strength, particularly in the face of danger and hardship. I’m glad they’re here. So if you’re looking for one of the cruise ship security specialist jobs - better check your passport.

The discussion turns to sonic guns, which some luxury cruise ships do have. Whether any of Holland America’s ships have one, the pirates will be the first to know.

POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Saturday, January 17, 2009

Becoming a Cruise Ship Captain and other Stories

Captain Jonathan Mercer is a tall, relaxed, personable man, here in Explorations Café to meet with us. He is married to an American, lives in Merritt Island, Florida, enjoys a drink, is dry on the ship, and loves golf, although he’s not very good. The work schedule is 12 weeks on and 12 off.

His route to becoming a captain started as the next best option. After failing to gain entry to flight school, maritime training in England was the next step. Twenty years later Holland America asked him to be one of their captains. 

The worst weather he ever encountered was in the roaring forties south of Africa. The bulk ore carrier was full, so the decks were low and fairly close to the sea. With hurricane force winds sweeping water over the decks, the only visible part of the ship was the tower the bridge was on. 

The wind and waves, the bridge sticking up out of the ocean, rolling from side to side, rising and plunging on the waves, these can be imagined. Enduring those conditions for hours on end is beyond comprehension. 

As for our weather conditions, there is a storm in the North Atlantic and we are feeling some of the effects of that. Captain Mercer says that they have 26’ seas. Here they are 11’, with a windy, overcast sky. His forecast is that the wind will increase. Fortunately the ship has stabilizers, which he promises will stay in service to keep a high percentage of passengers from complaining.

POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
cruise ship captains
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cruising the Bahamas

sunsets and sunrises help set the mood on a cruise ship
At sea, sunrises and sunsets are part of each day, not hiding behind trees or buildings.

Dawn is creeping in. I purposely left the blinds open as my early morning call, although it’s only about 7. I slept well. The movements of the ship aided in that.

Getting up I go out on the balcony and watch the dawn. We’re facing away from the sunrise, but that doesn’t matter, as it’s mostly cloudy. The air temperature is just a little cool. With the ship moving at 18-20 knots, the wind is stiff, but the balcony shelters me.

I see no ships and no birds. The islands of the Bahamas are scattered around us, but at the moment I see no land. Probably later.

Watching the waves has a meditative effect. Looking out away from the ship, they’re just moving endlessly away from us. Looking down the side of the ship, I see the effect the bow breaking through those waves causes, throwing spray and creating a cross hatched pattern of waves.

It’s peaceful.  
POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Saturday, January 10, 2009

Final Preparations - Cruise Vacation Eastern Carribean

Supplies and fuel are loaded for the Eurodam cruise.
Supplies and fuel are loaded for the Eurodam cruise.

I’m like a pinball in the pinball game. Here the game is the ship and the goal of the pinball is to learn where things are. First stop is storing energy in the Lido for lunch, where we meet fellow passenger, Herta. It’s a great stop as we listen to stories from when she worked as a nurse on cruise ships in the 60’s. We discover those days of cruising were more formal than things are now.

There is an announcement that our rooms are ready. Now the ball is starting the arc upwards, stopping momentarily to check out the room and drop off our carry-on luggage. The bed is plenty roomy and the upgrade with a balcony is really nice. It’s a great view from the starboard (right) side of the ship. We’re forward, and up on deck 10.

Now the pinball is arcing to the top on deck 12. I bounce around and wind my way down through the ship - exploring end to end and deck to deck. I learn where the library, pools, restaurants, Mainstage, gambling, bars, shopping and more is. Looking over the railing I see the last of the fuel and supplies being loaded on board. Now it’s time for this happy, satisfied pinball to take a break and sit down.

POSTED BY dan AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
carribean cruise, Eurodam cruise
Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Eurodam Cruise Vacation Eastern Caribbean

Sunset in the US Virgin Islands
Supplies and fuel are loaded for the Eurodam cruise.

Today’s the day! My first Caribbean cruise. We’ve been so busy that I paid little attention to what was coming up. We’re about to head off on a 7 night Caribbean cruise on the Holland America Eurodam.

This morning we’re running around Pompano Beach picking up a few last minute items. As it gets closer to the time to head to the ship I can feel a tiny bit of anxiety – the kind when that little part in the back of my mind pops up with reasons why we won’t make the ship. I realize I do the same thing when I’m headed for a plane.

My niece, Bonnie and her fiancé, Steve, are taking us to the dock. It’s amazing, but one of those things that get in the way pop up. Police cars have the highway blocked off. We do a u-turn and we’re off in another direction. Fortunately we planned to be there shortly after boarding starts so there’s still lots of time.

We’re leaving from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. At the entry they check our id’s and tell us which pier to go to. Curbside unloading is similar to an airport and the baggage handlers direct us forward. Inside the terminal we’re handed a medical checklist which has about ten ways to ask whether you have an intestinal problem. Final paperwork is handled and our pictures are taken.

Boarding is very smooth and well organized. There is virtually no waiting with lots of people directing us toward the ship. Since our rooms aren’t ready yet we’ll be heading up to the Lido restaurant to eat while we wait.
POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Holland America Eurodam, first time cruise, 7 nights caribbean cruise, cruise vacation eastern caribbean
Monday, January 05, 2009

Holland America Shore Excursions

Half Moon Cay - relaxing day on the beach
On the Beach Half Moon Cay

Shore excursions are a way to experience another part of the world. What makes each place different: the people…the scenery…nature? Will it be possible to get a feeling for what it was like with very few people? How has island history changed that? Can anybody make a living in paradise?

It’s time to browse the Holland American shore excursions options on their website. I quickly realize that a tight time schedule allows for only one major excursion in each port. That’s ok. The rest of the time can be spent wandering around and exploring. Sometimes chance meetings with a “local” person bring a deeper understanding of other cultures and places.

Each port has activities that are grouped around topics. We can get in or on the water by snorkeling, diving, kayaking or sailing, and of course there’s beach time. Variations on glass bottom boats and submarines are also options. Some of the historical tours also look promising. Adventuring through a rainforest on a zip line would definitely be memorable. Friends have told me of their parasailing adventure and I find myself toying with doing that.  

Shopping usually attracts us only for gathering Christmas presents or replacing a t shirt. From what I hear it can be a big deal for a lot of people as they look for unusual things to bring home. Liquor prices are low and with duty free limits coming back into the US, it’s a deal.

POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
shore excursions, Caribbean
Saturday, January 03, 2009

Holland America Eurodam Cruise to the Caribbean

Eurodam photo - image of sun on ship
Anchored at Half Moon Cay Bahamas

We’re getting ready to go on our first cruise and there are so many little things I never thought of.

Early dining around 6 or late dining around 8:15. That one is easy since we usually eat later anyway. Sitting at a table for 12 or a cozy 2? This is also easy since we like to hear other’s stories.

Ocean view or an inside cabin? We’ll splurge and take the ocean view, particularly since Lindie is a bit claustrophobic.

I have a strong tendency to orient myself in new places. That has started as I browse through the Hal Eurodam deck plan. Some of the restaurants, the main stage and swimming pools attract my attention. I see where the fitness rooms are. Then I start noticing that the Eurodam cabin plans don’t show many inside cabins. That’s interesting. They’ve come up with a business model that makes a few thousand dollars extra per cruise. Smart thinking.

POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Eurodam, caribbean, deck plan
Edingburgh, Scotland
Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland
Lerwich, Shetland Islands by Cruise Ship
Akureyri, Iceland by Cruise Ship
Reykjavik, Iceland by Cruise Ship
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It’s not a dream; it is a Holland America Alaska Cruise!

No one knows Alaska like Holland America Line. Premium service and comfort has been perfected. Tradition is evident everywhere, from classic teak deck chairs to friendly stewards offering hot chocolate - complimentary, of course. Every stateroom is larger than most other cruise lines and offers stylish appointments such as the custom-designed Mariner's Dream bed.    Get the most from Alaska by enjoying a verandah stateroom or suite, which are more spacious than any other ships in our class. Dining on a Holland America ship is a delight to experience with detail to quality and service that is top notch. Enjoy the elegance of the main dining room, the Pinnacle Grill or a quick bite by the pool or room service.


Every day on board brings a wealth of activities and enrichment programs to showcase Alaska at its best. Learn new ways to prepare seafood in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine magazine. Keep in touch with your work or loved ones in the Explorations Cafe, powered by The New York Times. Relax in the Crow's Nest and enjoy panoramic views. 

What makes Holland America Line a step above?
  • Every cruise in Glacier Bay National Park will feature ranger commentary from the bridge and an informative presentation. A Hunan Totem speaker will talk about their ancestral ties to the land.
  • A ranger from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park will provide bridge commentary for every visit to the mammoth Hubbard Glacier. Tinged natives will showcase their culture during visits to Yakutat Bay.
  • Seattle departures will host a pre-cruise presentation by a ranger about thonal parks of the Inside Passage.
  • Land tours offering several choices to fit your time and to see the most of Alaska.
  • Comfortable domed rail cars and coaches making travel enjoyable to some of most desirable destinations in Alaska.

Be sure to bring your binoculars along to view the many different wildlife experiences up close.




Denise Belisle Stone
Denise Belisle Stone
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