Guest blog by Captain Hernan Zini, Captain, Allure of the Seas.
It was a very nice and breezy afternoon in the Baltic. Both Staff Captains Gus and Johan were running the decks as I was spending more time on the bridge. We were watching the weather ahead and I was particularly concerned about a developing storm that would leave very little time for us to pass between UK and the Azores. I promised Lisa Bauer good weather and I was not ready to fail on that promise…but just in case, I decided to test the stabilizers (this cannot be done on the dock), even though they were not needed yet. I guess you know the answer by now…No problems!
The next days were going to be busy on the Bridge and in the Engine Control Room, sailing inside the Baltic, going under the bridge and navigating the restricted waters around Denmark, watching the weather ahead and transiting the English Channel always adds a bit more healthy stress to the Bridge Team. But they were ready and proud to navigate their new ship. I remember our 1st Officer Ryan recently promoted to Chief Officer coming to talk to me with a worried face and asking if he could delay his promotion for a few days. He wanted to have the chance to navigate the ship before he moved to the Chief Officer position that works more time on the decks. I think that captures the proud feeling of the entire Bridge team. Ryan remained on the Bridge until we passed the UK. I was personally very happy to see the professionalism and attention to detail of our team. You could argue that I was a bit biased, but this was also commented by the Danish Pilots that came onboard to assist us with the navigation under the Bridge. They were impressed with the Bridge team and they took time to let us know that.
While this was going on, our deck crew was ready to start washing the ship, but there was a small problem. All the pipes for the outer decks were shut down at the yard. During the month of October sometimes you can get freezing temperatures and there were concerns about pipes breaking. So all pipes were drained and valves were closed. Mikael was watching the weather and as the temperature increased he gave the go ahead to Tommy to start opening the valves. These valves are located in not so easily accessible areas, but nothing was a problem for Tommy…checked his drawings, found the valves… job done… no problems…and the washing started…washing the ship is like washing your hands, once you finish doing it you are almost ready to start doing it again. That was our grand opening of the never ending washing process.
The first week of washing is particularly hard, as there is a lot of what we call “flying rust” on the ship hull. The deck team did a great job on Polishing the Gold of our ship and after the first week at sea, Allure was glowing. They went over every surface on the open decks, stainless steel polishing, window cleaning and treatment, deck scrubbing and final touch up painting. Our Bosun Nick, a veteran and experienced seaman, was leading the troops on deck….and no details will escape his well trained eyes. Their main priority on their minds… “Safety First”… they even found time to celebrate this way of thinking by painting their own artwork at the mooring deck.
Speaking of Safety First, we trained and trained our crew before departure and during the crossing. Every 3rd day at sea we would have a full drill. We did over 20, 000 hours of Safety Training and by the time we were done with that the crew would have walked over 7,000 Kilometers or 3,800 Nautical Miles. Incredible when you think that we sailed 5,300 NM from Turku to Port Everglades. You can almost literally say that we “Walked the Talk” on safety….Our Chief Officer Safety Mikko and Lou Costello, with the help of our 10 shore side safety trainers, were the leading force on all these efforts. No surprise we passed the US Coast Guard inspection with no deficiencies and very good compliments regarding our crew training.
The security team, with our Security Officer Mula at the helm, was also walking the talk, going around the ship day and night, conducting their safety rounds while finding small details that needed attention on remote areas of the ship that we normally do not visit every day, setting up all the security equipment for gangway operations, working with the issuing of all keys to the different departments and checking every one of the over 1,000 CCTV cameras onboard. I could see they were doing a good job!
The Engine team was busy polishing the engine compartments. The machinery spaces are always hard to keep clean and while STX does a good job at it, it is never to the standards of our Chief Engineers. If you ask Staale, he would like to be able to have dinner on the decks of the engines spaces at any time. That is how clean we keep our ships. While operating all the systems onboard, they also found time to bring their spaces up to par and by the time we arrived at Ft. Lauderdale the engine spaces were looking the part.
On the environmental front our two Environmental Officers, Andy and Peter, were taking the lead together with the engine team. All systems started as planned; incinerators, oily water separators and our AWP (Advanced Wastewater Plant). By following strict company policies and practices and using innovative technologies, we conduct our business Above and Beyond Compliance. Believe me, this task is not easy. Our AWP plant cleans the wastewater generated onboard to such standard that far exceeds all international ship wastewater discharge standards. Our team did a great job starting and operating our plant. A large amount of training and inspections were also going on during the initial weeks to ensure all of our Save the Waves policies were fully implemented throughout the ship…no time was wasted onboard in all our environmental efforts.
Thanks for reading about the different safety operations of Allure in today’s blog. Stay tuned for my last entry of this 3-part blog series!