Cruise end once again.
Today I thought I would give you some idea of what a turn around day means to the ship and her crew and my own schedule.
My day started with a call from the bridge at 04:45 informing me that its time to get up, the wind is NW 30 knots, we have ships beside and behind us and we are on time. We came up the sea lane from the south following the traffic lanes to a holding area around 2 miles outside the breakwaters. Here we wait for our pilot to come to us. It was a very windy day. 30 Knots of wind gusting to 40 means we have to plan our arrival very carefully. On this occasion we used a tug to assist us. Our pilot came onboard around 06:10 and the bridge team and I discussed our plan to enter the harbour and get the ship safely to her berth and tie her up alongside.
The tug puts a line up to our stern and we passed between the breakwaters into the harbour. This port is a very busy ferry harbour that serves the outlying islands. They zoom in and out and we have to get in and berth with as minimum a disruption to their schedules as we can manage.
We tied up alongside our berth, let go the tug and bid our pilot farewell. It is 7 am. Even before the last mooring rope is sent ashore the quayside is buzzing with activity. The gangway goes out and is rigged.
The ships agent boards with the port authorities. The customs and immigration formalities are completed. The call goes out on the radio to inform us all that clearance has been granted to the ship and we can start the business of the day.
A ship side door opens. A portable gangway is connected. It is time to start unloading approximately 500 pieces of luggage. All this must be done as soon a possible. The guests can’t leave without their luggage and some have early flights from Athens airport.
The security team check out the quayside to ensure all is well before we send our guests and crew ashore.
A tent, table and chairs are set up on the quay with brochures laid out.
The fresh water pipeline is connected to replenish our tanks.
The farewell committee of the Cruise Director, myself, the Hotel Director and others gather at the foot of the gangway to bid our guests farewell. Sophie the Cruise Director gets distracted by a man with a puppy. yes…really.
The Provisions Master turns up with the chef. There are 5 truck loads of fresh produce and stores to be loaded. Lettuces are checked for quality. Fruit is squeezed and sampled. The good stuff is loaded by forklift into our store rooms. Some is rejected. The chef is very particular.
The Chief Engineer arrives on the quayside. There are spare parts to be loaded. Giovanni and his team are ready for them.
The bosun turns up. There is a crane on the quay. He will use that for his team to wash, clean and paint the ship.
We have been alongside less than one hour at this stage. It is 07:50.
Guests going home on early flights start to leave. Those staying until Venice go on a tour to the sights of Athens.
A small tanker arrives alongside. We will take on 300 tonnes of fuel. It is securely tied up alongside by the deck team. The engineers plug in the pipeline. Pumping begins shortly after our safety checks are completed.
An hour and a half has passed since we arrived. It is 08:30.
New crew arrive. The crew Purser collects them to check them in.
Technicians turn up to service some of our equipment for us.
A Company training officer turns up. Over the course of the next week he will do some training with the crew to enhance their knowledge and brush up with new techniques and practices.
By 10am the guests going home have left. The cabin stewardesses and the housekeeping utilities are in full swing getting the suites cleaned and ready for the new guests. Suite fridges are replenished by the bar teams and the vacuum cleaners are in full flow.
By 11am all the teams onboard are in top gear with the task of getting the ship ready for her new guests and the next voyage to Venice. The Company trainer has discussed his schedule for the week. The technicians have asked their questions and are now head down in various bits of equipment. The stores are coming on. The garbage is going off.
Noon. Time to get some lunch. Take stock of all thats going on.
1pm. Time for a rest. Grab a nap. Phone rings. I am needed for some paperwork. New guests are boarding.
2pm. Get some paperwork done. Voyage reports to check from the just completed cruise. Check with the department heads how we are progressing.
2:30pm. Not long now before we conduct our passenger emergency drill before we sail. Get my speeches ready. Quick read through. Been through this many times but still read through. It is part of the process I go through to get myself ready to talk to the guests. Some will be new to me. Others I will have sailed with in the past. Its important to set the right tone for this.
2:50 pm. Up to the bridge. Time for the passenger drill to start.
3:30 pm drill is over. Quick check on the overall situation. Fuel loading has finished. The tanker has gone. The stores are all onboard. They are being sorted and taken to the various fridges and storerooms. The garbage is still being offloaded. Its all going well.
4pm. Time to sit for a few minutes. 2 hours to sailing time. Check the few emails. It is saturday so not many. Mostly internal stuff. One from my wife Debbie which shoots to priority number one to reply too.
5:30pm On the bridge. Brief the teams ready for departure.
6pm Pilot boards. We get our departure slot in the traffic queue. We sail for Monemvasia.
7pm settle the ship for the night and a long but good day comes to a close for me.
9pm. Write some night orders. These are my instructions to the bridge teams for the night ahead and to prepare the ship for our arrival into Monemvasia at 7:30am tomorrow morning. Have a cup of tea. Catch the latest news on the TV. Wished I had not. All Blacks draw against the Wallabies in the rugby game in Sydney. Should have won that one.
10pm. Bed. Goodnight.