April 19, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 105

Day 105 – At Sea. We are in the Mediterranean Sea headed towards the Straight of Gibraltar at 18.5 knots. The skies are partly cloudy, and the air temperature this morning was 59. The ship is riding quite steady even with a 40 mph wind and following 10 to 15 foot seas directly on our stern. We should be going thru the straight about 2:00 AM tomorrow morning, way past my bedtime, and too dark to see anything anyway.

As we slowly move west, at about noon time today we will enter the Western Hemisphere. Of greater importance, about 11:30 tonight we will pass the second antipodal point of the cruise. 78 days ago we passed the first antipodal point near Auckland, NZ. These are points on the globe that are exactly opposite each other, and are important in meeting the definition of circumnavigating the globe. Other requirements for circumnavigation are simple, to travel primarily in one direction, and to start and end the journey at the same location.

A few weeks ago a reader asked if there have been any changes to the Amsterdam in recent years. There does not appear that any material changes have been made in a number of years, if ever. However, in 2017 the Amsterdam is scheduled for a major refurbishment which will include upgrades to staterooms as well as a complete redo of many of the public spaces. At this time it is expected that many of the features and the looks of the recently launched Koningsdam will be brought to the Amsterdam. I did not visit the Konsingsdam, so I can't be more specific. A few people that did, described it as being very modern.

Besides the information about refurbishment a few other tidbits I learned from a Q&A with the Captain, First Officer, and Engineer.

We can cruise for four months without refueling.

The Captain disembarks in Fort Lauderdale, and then leaves two days later for several weeks of training in Amsterdam. The Engineer goes a week later. A certain amount of training is required of all officers every year.

The steering control of one of the azipods has failed twice in the last week. It is hoped that engineers will board tomorrow to figure out the cause. There is total redundancy in steering control, and the one system has now been shut down awaiting repair.

Many of the newer ships being built (by all companies) are being designed to use LPG as the primary fuel source. It is much cleaner than the bunker fuel now used by the diesel engines. There are already ferry boats in service that can only use LPG.

There is an industry wide concern in finding the skilled staff for upper level positions in the maritime industry.

For the 2018 World Cruise, the head office sent four proposals to the captain, hotel director, and cruise director, for their selection. They chose parts of each to arrive at the final itinerary. Their selections were influenced by feedback from passengers. Seattle approved it a few weeks ago.

The older ships have a different hull configuration than the newer ships, and handle rough seas much more smoothly.

Two diesel engines are running at all times when we are not tied to a dock. If we are moving at a slow speed, because the next port is close for example, the engines are running way below maximum efficiency.

There were more, but these are the ones I remember that may interest someone.

One of the unique features of the World Cruise is that in many of the countries we visit, local entertainers are brought on to share local local traditions and customs in music and dance. The entertainment tonight is "Flamenco Show" performed by local entertainers from Seville, Spain. During the day they gave a guitar recital, and dance demonstration. If I knew Spanish I would have enjoyed it more.

My tour, "Panoramic Cadiz and Jerez with Sherry", leaves fairly early in the morning, so I do need to set my alarm clock. The weather forecast is for a high of only 60, and a chance of rain. I won't complain, the weather has been so good for nearly four months.