Notice I’ve changed my blog title. It used to be titled “My Adventures”. Lame. Now it’s titled “Visit” places you are never likely to see.
If you’ve read all my blog entries, you know just how adventuresome I am. Now just how many people to you know that have been in as many odd places as I have been?
When we got back from snorkeling, a message was on the phone. The day before, I had encountered a maintenance crew scraping on an odd weld in a very odd place. I laughed and them asked them about it, the chief said that they had cut a hole in the ship to replace a clothes washer. The laundry was on the other side, deck two. I wistfully mentioned I’d like to see the interior of the ship below the passenger decks and he said that it would probably be no problem. (!!!)
I didn’t even clean up from snorkeling, I was too excited. I zipped up to the main desk and asked. I told the clerk the worst answer I could get was ‘no’, anything thing else was better. I mentioned my first tour at that time. The clerk was quite surprised I’d been on the Ryndam bridge, that was in 2008. He was on the bridge only once, on his first day of work. The desk man said he thought it could be arranged. It was. 1:30pm on the 12th.
The hotel manager, Simon, was kind enough to take 1/2 out of his busy schedule to show us around. It just about had to be him. There are only five people on the ship that have keys to every one of the rooms we visited. Captain, Staff Captain (2nd in command), Hotel Manager, Head of Security, Chief Engineer. There is a lot of stuff around, a lot of valuable stuff, and a lot of people working or playing on board. Security is important. There is a crew compliment onboard of 525 and 1250 or so passengers.
There is no just way that very many other passengers could be allowed to take this tour. There is not a lot of room, a bigger group wouldn’t fit. Space is at a premium, there is something jammed into about every corner. Also, the walking areas have unexpected tripping hazards. Finally, an important person has to take some of his or hers precious time to walk your around. I will NOT mention this tour to anyone else while onboard this ship, except our room stewards. I can see it now, people whining to the Hotel Manager “Those people got a tour, why not me?” I got the tour because I’ve got the guts to ask! And the sense to keep my mouth shut! I’m sure there is a record of my tour of the bridge is in their computer system, which few people know about to this day.
Except for my relatives and readers. This second unusual cruise ship tour is now what I will share with you. Here we go!
Simon has his fingers in just about everything on the ship that doesn’t have to do with physical operations, by that I mean navigation and engineering. 19 years of seniority, he said he had done many of the jobs we saw. He was issuing instructions to people as we toured.
I think Simon agreed to this tour for two reasons. One, I asked. Two, it was a good chance to stick his nose in the odd corners and have a look around. I know the feeling. You get in a rut and forget about some things unless they are waved under your nose when something goes wrong with them.
We took the stairs down to C deck. Been there before. You go down there to leave the ship for shore tours. The gangway is stowed off to the side, I had figured out that much all ready. There are the Human Resource offices, the travel office, and a barber shop. I saw the doors, but I didn’t know what went on behind them.
The travel office handles employment and transportation for the Philippine and Indonesian workers. There are always foreign workers coming and going, there are two people that handle the logistics. Booking flights, arranging training, paperwork, legalities, and transfers. They obviously need a barbershop. The crew needs to look good at all times. Now I’m wondering. The men are covered by the barbershop. Where do the women get their hair done? Same place? I’ll ask Simon if I see him. Or Gen, our Filipina friend that works in the massage therapy. (12/20 8:15pm Talked to Gen. The ladies handle their own hair for the most part. Some cut each other’s hair. The entertainers have to look sharp. They get a 50% discount at the beauty parlor on deck 11 if they think they need the service)
Human Relations is just that. The liaison between crew and officer, they handle the problems that 500 odd people living in close proximity are bound to have. And also handle the positive stuff, bonuses and payroll.
Just aft of this is the senior officer’s mess and lounge. They have a private room with four tables. A steward was in attendance, but no one else was there. He might be there most of the time. The room looked very comfortable and pleasant. Food is brought in from the passenger kitchen on deck 7. I had kind of assumed that the bridge staff ate upstairs by the bridge. Nope. By the way, the ship is honeycombed with elevators.
Just aft of that is another mess and lounge, this one for the petty officers. Not as nice, but still very comfortable.
Just aft of this is the crew lounge with video games, store, big screen TV, karaoke, and a foosball table. It was rather sterile in comparison to the other lounges, but I was glad to see that the hard working crew has a nice area to relax and unwind. Two off duty crewman were playing Gameboy in a cubicle. There is also an internet station, but I’m guessing it doesn’t get used much. I’m squawking about the high internet prices and I’m betting I get paid a lot more than the average crewman gets paid.
On the aft side of the room is the serving area for crew mess. A wall separates it from the kitchen. There are four meal times a day, 6-8am, 11am-1pm, 4-6pm, and 8:30-11:30pm. There are two complete menus made for the crew at each meal time. One side of the kitchen prepares Philippine, the other Indonesian. It looked too small to prepare the volume of food to feed that many crew members, but the main meal item is rice. They go through about 500lbs of rice a week!
Simon pointed out halls that led to the crew quarters. I asked about the quarters, they are much smaller than the passenger’s quarters. Not surprising. Two people to a room.
No pictures until now. I was not allowed to invade the crew’s privacy.
Next, the loading area that provides ship-to-shore transfer of cargo. The pictures aren’t the greatest. Simon was in a hurry, I didn’t feel comfortable dawdling.
These folded tables are actually cargo boxes. Our luggage goes in them when it’s transferred to and from the ship.
Alas, I was hurrying. This is blurry. Pallets, bicycles, some recycling. This area would have been full when we arrived in Curacao. The ship offloaded a dump truck load of garbage!
Holland America is proud of this area, it’s their recycling room. There were pallet loads of flattened boxes.
They also grind the food waste into a slurry. That is done on the other side of that wall. I’m not sure how it is disposed. Best guess, it’s probably dumped overboard for the sea creatures to eat.
Holland America also has a sewage treatment plant on board, it has to be on A deck. They have just about the best recycling/waste disposal program in the world for cruise lines. Last I saw, they were the highest rated in the world.
One of many cold rooms, this one is the banana room. At the start of the cruise, this and the following storage rooms were all stacked solid. About this time it occurred to me that all this stuff had to be stowed. It comes in on pallets randomly, except that cold goods are packed with cold goods and so on. They form a huge bucket brigade on C deck on the first day of the cruise and everyone gets the supplies, food, paper products, whatever, put away as quickly as possible.
One of the kitchen prep rooms. There are two others. I had assumed the prepping was done in the main kitchen. Wrong. Most of the prepping is done on the C deck, the prepared foods are taken by elevator to the kitchens for final cooking. We’ll see this dolphin by the Lido pool tonight. There is a dessert extravaganza at 10pm. I will probably miss it as I’m still not feeling the greatest. Praxy and I are perhaps the only passengers that know this is going to be the centerpiece tonight.
We continued on. A full meat butchering room. A lot of times they buy meat by the quarter or half and custom butcher it. Two florists. One was leaving at Tampa, the other was training to take over. Holland America insists on fresh flowers throughout the ship. I now know where the beautiful orchids come from that grace our tables at breakfast. They are live and in pots, not many of the flowers on board are cut!
Brrr. A freezer room. Not sure what was in here. Can’t remember now.
Eggs and dairy.
Whoa, this was really really cold. See the condensation in the picture? Ice cream and other frozen goodies. Across the hall was another closed and locked door. Morgue. This may sound a bit macabre but, cruises attract an older crowd and some of them aren’t physically well. (We have had four or five people leave the ship in the last 20 days for medical reasons. The person can be hospitalized or flown back to the US or both. Sometimes they are airlifted off the ship. No one has died that I know of. Someone DID die on our honeymoon cruise.) The body is held in the cold room until the ship returns to the survivor’s chosen port and the body is then removed from the ship. In the US, the body is turned over to a coroner. Simon mentioned that this room was not the place where you wanted to end your cruise.
Not cold at all. Dry storage for canned goods and such. They have a good supply of spices. Not much canned stuff. Most foods on the Ryndam are made from fresh ingredients.
This room was chilly. It’s for storage of the cookable dry goods like rice, wheat, polenta, quinoa, sugar, etc.
Storage for the housekeeping department. Bleach, cleaning supplies, soap, so on.
Blast it, I didn’t get a picture of the meat storage room. It was impressive. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds of chicken, duck, beef, pork on rows and rows of shelves. One room frozen, the other thawed and ready for use this evening. Rows of things like prime rib, duck breasts, steaks, roasts, pork tenderloins, whole chickens, long tubes of hamburger. Come to think of it, I didn’t see any seafood. It had to be in one of these refrigerators or freezers.
We dropped down a deck and came upon the thing that started this tour, the laundry. We are now at the rear of the ship, starting forward. Or at least close to the rear. I could hear the engine room nearby.
One of the smaller washers, maybe 50lbs capacity.
Dry cleaning. They don’t use the harsh chemical dry cleaning method on the ship and Simon was quick to point this out. I was glad. That chemical that they used to use always gave me a splitting headache. And it’s extremely flammable.
Their large washer, about 200lbs capacity. I thought they might have a bigger one, but no. I’ve seen bigger. A lot bigger. I worked at a laundry in Boise that had 500-750lbs machines. But this bugger is the biggest I’ve seen since those days (college).
A mechanic was working on this one. He looked like an electrician. Across the room.
This is a mangle. A very large and heavy power driven iron with numerous heated rollers. I figured they would have one, and they did. Ever wonder how a professional laundry gets those perfect folds? And those crisp perfect tablecloths and sheets? Small businesses have the heated clamshell type of steam press. But it takes one of these huge and expensive machines if you’ve got a large volume of laundry. The old timey ones can weigh tons (The giant mangle at Steiner Corporation in Boise was quite the antique. It weighed about two tons. Ten feet wide, twelve feet long. I think it had about 24 rollers of different sizes). This one was big, about 8 by 10 and probably more efficient. One person feeds, another person on the other end receives and stacks. It can do a huge job in one heck of a hurry. Two people for sheets or tablecloths, perhaps 6-8 to do something small like shop cloths or table napkins.
A smaller, one person mangle. I’ve never seen one like this before.
The little city-in-a-ship continues. Sewing shop. Three people employed here. That’s a lot of sewing. Does he ever see the light of day? Ha, I’m sure he does. The crew seems well treated and happy. For the most part, everyone we saw smiled and waved. Some looked a little shocked to see us chumming around with the big boss.
A couch or chair gets ripped by a passenger? Or gets to looking worn? No problem. An upholstery shop with material for about everything on board.
The linen room. This is where the stewards get their laundry for the guests. Pick up what you need, find the elevator, and you’re ready.
Off a load goes to the passenger cabins.
I tried to get a picture of this, but I missed it. A watertight door. It closes in an emergency if the hull is breached.
There was still a lot more to see, I’m sure. Our tour ended at this point and we were still at the back of the ship. Probably a lot of crew quarters, they gotta sleep somewhere. We caught a little elevator up and ended up in the steward room aft on floor six. Looking in from the hall, you would never know that there was an elevator there. It’s carefully tucked around a corner.
There is another ultra-exclusive tour on the Ryndam in my blog. It is in my previous section about my honeymoon cruise under the“About the ship” entry. The bridge. Check it out, it’s worth hunting for. The invitation from Holland America in 2008 requested that I or my family “…not mention this tour to your fellow passengers”.
Now, if I can just get that engine room tour!
12/20/12 9:04pm AST