Today was another at-sea day. Bill and I went to a one-hour Question and Answer session this afternoon with the ship Captain, the Chief Engineer, and the Hotel Director. It was really quite interesting, and the three men had great senses of humor. One question, for example, had to do with the leftover food. The chief engineer said all unused food, and any food that had been on the buffet for more than four hours was carefully packaged up into 3 large containers and given to a company called Royal Caribbean. That brought howls of laughter from the audience.
Bill and I looked around at the crowd and noticed it was mostly the older guests that attended the Q & A. I know without a doubt, though, that my boys would have enjoyed the session and probably would have been very unhappy that each person could ask a maximum of one question, and they ran out of time for everyone's questions. Here is some of what we learned:
**The ship gets 62 feet per gallon. That sounds horrible (and amusing) until you consider that the ship is generating power to move it forward, electricity, heat, air conditioning, and it's making its own water. And 2900 people (including crew) are on board. So maybe 62 feet per gallon isn't so bad.
**The ship can stop in as little as 400 meters. It can stop in 3 ways, by 'slamming on the brakes', by slowing and then reversing the azipods (sort of like propellers) or by turning in a large circle. If I recall correctly, doing a large circle was actually the most efficient way of stopping in a hurry.
**The ship must go in to dry-dock for repairs and maintenance twice every five years. It may not be at sea for more than 3 years without being in dry-dock. The Eurodam was just in dry-dock in December 2013.
**The ship captains work in 3-month shifts. They work for 3 straight months, then go home for 3 months. Every 2-3 years, they change to a new vessel.
**The majority of the crew works a 10-month contract. So they work for 10 straight months, then go home and have a few months off before they sign a new contract and start all over again.
**The crew (not the officers) are all from Indonesia and the Philippines. Holland America has training schools in Jakarta and Manila. The more training and education you have, the better position you have. Eric, who is the host of the dining room, is very polite and well-spoken. He told me he has been with Holland America for 13 years. He and I get along well.
**The crew is all unionized. That makes perfect sense because it means that Holland America doesn't have to hire each staff member one by one. That isn't practical when there are 800 staff on board.
**The Eurodam has its own gym/fitness center for just the crew to use It's called DAM Fit. Haha!
**The ship distills sea water into water that is potable right onboard the ship. It also cleans gray water before putting it back in the ocean. There is a sewage treatment plant on board for the black water.
**A new engine/generator has just been installed on Deck 10. It is being tested and approved for use this very week. Its sole purpose is to be an emergency backup in case something catastrophic happens in the engine room. So the Eurodam will NEVER be in a position where it has no power, water, toilet facilities, etc. Carnival owns Holland America and Carnival is learning from its past mistakes and the mistakes of other cruise lines.
**Holland America has just started construction on its newest vessel. It will be just slightly larger than the Eurodam (which is currently its largest ship) and will hold a few hundred more people. Information is still being released regarding the new ship, and it hasn't even been named yet. It was just announced today that the new ship will have a Dutch restaurant on board. Bill muttered that he hoped its focus would be desserts only.
Tomorrow is our last full day on board. We will be in Key West, so I have promised to call home and see how the boys are doing. I can tell you I am very ready to see my kids and sleep in my own bed, but I will dearly miss cruising. But I know we will be back. We put down a deposit on our next cruise today. And we have 4 years to figure out when that next cruise will be!
Notice the radar in the lower picture. It says 'Sam'. We don't know what that stands for, but we knew our Sam would be proud.