7th October, 2021
Coming into any port with gale force conditions outside of the harbour is a guaranteed way to earn your wage! Although the forecast was for 35 kts of wind and 3 meter swell, conditions were in fact worse than expected. An hour before the arrival to the Maas Pilot station, we received a call from Traffic Control that conditions were considered unsafe for our assigned pilot to join by pilot boat. We were advised that the pilot will board by helicopter instead - a standard procedure which we drill for.
I made a PA announcement advising both guests and crew of this development. Preparation for helicopter arrival includes a fire team, rescue boat team and medical team being on standby in case of an emergency. We also ask guests with the forward-most cabins to vacate them for their safety. The pilot arrived smoothly and we stood down the teams on standby, and guests could return to their forward cabins.
Our pilot’s name was Sebastian, an informative chap not perturbed by the weather conditions, we could keep our speed high to reduce the wind and current effect. A nice early alignment for the breakwater made the entrance to the harbour look easy. Once inside the harbour we still had 2 hours of pilotage to get to our pier. We were docked as close to downtown as possible, just past the M/S Rotterdam that nowadays acts as a floating hotel. A beautiful sight. By the time we got to the pier the winds had died down and the evening was beautiful. We swung just off the berth and backed her down with port side alongside. Quite an eventful day, I must admit.
The next morning I was awoken by the sun; a quick shower, shave and breakfast before my daily ship tour. Those guests who didn’t go on a tour were out on deck enjoying the lovely morning, it would have been a shame to stay inside. At noon I was accompanied by our agent, Patrick, to the terminal building, where we had a plaque exchange. Along with two plaques, I was gifted a massive bouquet of flowers, which I decided would be wasted in my cabin, so I called Jemma, our Guest Services Director, and we agreed that her desk/Reception area would be better suited.
Our departure was in the hands of Phil, our Chief Officer, under my watchful eye. He thrusted the ship off the berth, aligned her for the channel and started building speed. He then handed the Con to the pilot, who took us out the same way we came in. Weather conditions were perfect and we had an operatic sail away. We cast off our lines and sounded the ship’s whistle just before Gisela, our Supper Club singer, serenaded us out with Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turnadot. Talk about a Maria Callas-class entrance on stage. Guests on deck followed the whistle with a grand round of applause.
Captain Franko Papić
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